By GeaSpeak Team | 2023-02-13
Localizing for NGOs: Key Insights

Translating and localizing for NGOs is as challenging as it is gratifying. Service organizations have a strong demand for localization services in order to reach the widest possible audience to contribute to their work.

For nonprofit and charitable organizations, going beyond borders by providing clear and accurate information in different languages is crucial to drive their mission forward. This is why localization and NGOs are so inextricably linked.

Materials to Localize

Localized Materials for NGOs

The content NGOs need to localize has two main goals:

  • Internally: information materials, such as documentation, instruction manuals or guides for new volunteers of the organization.
  • Externally: advertising materials aimed at engaging new volunteers.

The Importance of Marketing for NGOs

The importance of marketing for NGOs

Just as brands develop and adopt marketing strategies to draw the attention of key potential audiences, service organizations also need to attract contributors. This is so because, for many of them, the only source of funding is the contribution of the volunteers that work for the organization. Moreover, addressing potential volunteers in their language drives brand recognition, which helps to build people’s trust in the organization, which in turn results in greater volunteer recruitment and fundraising rates.

NGOs need potential volunteers to collaborate with the organization, make a donation or participate in an event. In order to achieve this goal, a catchy and engaging copy – similar to a marketing copy – should be crafted to effectively reach the intended audience. Some of the most frequent marketing materials for this kind of organizations are advertisements, flyers or even the content of the organization’s website itself.

The purposes of these texts are varied, for example, they may aim at:

Purposes of NGOs copies

Linguistic and Availability Requirements

When working with materials for NGOs and other service organizations, translators should consider the following linguistic and availability requirements:

Tone and Register

To appear friendly and close to the reader, it is key to use the appropriate tone and register. Take the case of Spanish, for example, which has formal and informal pronouns. Usually, organizations tend to prefer using the informal pronoun “tú” for Latin American Spanish and even the use of “voseo” for the Rioplatense region.

Another key aspect when translating into Spanish is the variety chosen. The majority of large international organizations work in multiple countries and in a network. This creates the need to translate into a Spanish variety suitable for different countries, such as Latin American Spanish or even International Spanish.


Consistency is also very important in these types of projects, as organizations try to use the same terminology in the different countries they work in. Terminology consistency contributes to brand recognition, improving understanding and efficiency when working simultaneously in numerous countries.

In order to maintain consistency, specific linguistic tasks are required:

  • Glossary creation
  • Style guide development
  • Localized brand guide creation (as previously mentioned, brand recognition is just as important for service organizations as it is for businesses)


Another thing to take into account is the immediate availability of the language service provider (LSP). Large international nonprofits usually need the translation of press releases with great immediacy, for example, in the event of natural disasters or international summits that give rise to aid campaigns. Under these circumstances, there is some urgency to spread news, call for the assistance of volunteers, or inform about the measures taken at the time to contribute to the cause.

For more than 10 years, at GeaSpeak we have provided our localization services to an international children service organization with over 550,000 volunteers worldwide. This has provided us with the knowledge and experience to know what it takes to translate for this industry, where addressing people directly and personally is a key aspect and a task where language becomes paramount.