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  • Blanche Israël

Grant Apps: To Translate, or Not To Translate?

Ah, translation. The perennial, quintessentially Canadian quandary. Almost every organization could use a little more of it, but many fail to dedicate sufficient resources to it. It is so important to certain bilingual funders, though, that some of them will go so far as to pay your translation bill in order to receive your application in both official languages. And if you don't take them up on that, they are stuck with translating it for you. So the question is, which one is in your organization's best interest?


By overseeing the translation of your grant, you retain control (sweet, sweet control) of some of the most important parts of your application. Think about how much time you spent, at some point, wordsmithing your mission. A translator has to do much of the same work to reproduce it in a new language, and many tiny choices have to be made. An advantage of hiring your own translator is that you can go through the finished version (even if it is with your grade 3 French), pick out some of the important elements, and get your translator's help with fine-tuning it.

Translation can be a powerful tool in your arsenal.


For instance, last year, I worked on producing copy for a project called The Unsilent Project. The word "Unsilent" was made up and therefore has no translation, but its essence was about speaking out and being a bit defiant. So I invented its French couterpart, "Le projet Insilence", which is reminiscent of "insolence" and also incorporates that same feeling of "not silent" or "anti-silence", just like the original project name had done. The funder's translators will not have the creative license to start playing with naming in this way - this can only be done internally. By hiring your own translator, you get to work with them to develop your messaging in a more thoughtful way.


The Canada Council offers up to $2,200 to cover the translation costs associated with core funding applications, depending on the category. At Proscenium, this will get you over 15,000 words, or 30+ standard pages. This also gives you an opportunity to test the translation process if you are thinking about increasing your French presence in your other communications. Council will give you a 2-week grace period after the deadline of your application to get this done, so it doesn't have to interfere with the hullabaloo of last-minute submissions.


Another major pro is that you will end up with a copy of the grant text (which often includes your mission, your history and other lasting information about your organization) that you can use elsewhere, like on your website and in brochures.


If you're facing the to-translate-or-not-to-translate question, Proscenium has got your back. Per-word rates start at just 13 cents and are based on layout, timeframe, and complexity. To receive a quote, share your word count and deadline with us.


Committed to your success,