Nonprofit Translation

January 22, 2020


Nonprofit organizations are an important part of our Twin Cities communities. They bring people together to work for the common good, strengthen the local economy, and provide a voice on important topics for the communities they serve. There are over 2,200 nonprofit organizations in Minnesota alone. Each of these organizations is driven by a specific, important mission. While those missions vary from organization to the next, they all are similar in their aim to contribute to their communities.

Given the community-based nature of nonprofit organizations, it’s important to make sure that nonprofit resources are accessible to all members of the community. This sometimes requires document translation of files to make sure that multilingual community members can understand the information that is presented to them. Here in Minneapolis/St. Paul, information that is important for the community will often be translated into Spanish, Somali, Hmong, Karen, and Oromo, as there are large populations of these speakers that reside in the Twin Cities. If information is not made available in these languages, these large populations of community members will not receive important communications.

When translating information to be distributed to a specific community, it’s important that the information be translated by a professional translation team that is native in the target language and that resides within the target community. Take, for example, the Spanish-speaking population of the Twin Cities. Spanish is spoken in many countries throughout the world, and the Spanish-speaking residents of Minneapolis and St. Paul and the surrounding suburbs do not come from just one place. A large portion of the Spanish speakers who now call the Twin Cities home have immigrated from Mexico, but there are also significant populations of Puerto Rican, Ecuadorian, El Salvadorian, and Guatemalan descent. Because of this melting pot of different versions of Spanish, the Spanish that has come to be spoken and heard throughout the Twin Cities is significantly different than a version of Spanish that is local to just Mexico or just Puerto Rico. This is why the translators taking on nonprofit translation work for Minnesotan nonprofits must live within the Spanish-speaking communities in the Twin Cities. This ensures that the Spanish version used for translation flows with that of what is spoken within the communities, making sure the messages are clear and will be understood.

Another example is Somali translation. Somali is a unique language in that a written version is rather new, and, rather than having a vast vocabulary of words as English does, Somali relies on telling stories and painting pictures of ideas with colorful explanations. Once again, it’s important that the translators translating into Somali for nonprofit and community translations in the Twin Cities understand how Somali is spoken here in the Twin Cities. Due to the complexities of translating the language, much of a message can easily be lost if the linguists do not understand how the language is used every day right here in Minnesota. 

Each nonprofit organization is driven by a different mission and a different goal, yet each of these goals is important, helping wide ranges of people and places. However, unless organizations are able to effectively translate their messages in a way that is accessible and understandable by all of the members of the communities they are trying to reach, their goals will be more difficult to reach.