The Rosetta volunteer community survey results are out!


Earlier this year, The Rosetta Foundation merged with Translators without Borders (TWB). To better understand the Rosetta volunteer community, we conducted a community survey in September 2017. The survey received an enthusiastic response, with nearly 700 volunteers sharing their thoughts on their background, translation experience, technology, and what inspires them to volunteer.

Here are a few interesting facts about The Rosetta Foundation volunteers.

  1. The Rosetta volunteer community is incredibly diverse

We received responses from volunteers in almost 100 countries!

Map of respondents

Volunteers come from a wide variety of educational and professional backgrounds. While most identify as translators (see below), the Rosetta community has engineers, healthcare professionals, and IT specialists among its volunteers. Other volunteers come from more non-traditional fields, like agriculture, biology, chemistry, sport science, theater arts, and even ceramics.

The languages represented among The Rosetta Foundation volunteers are equally diverse, allowing the community to serve a variety of non-profit partners and causes around the world.

  1. Rosetta volunteers have a wealth of translation experience

To join Trommons, The Rosetta Foundation’s online platform, one does not need to be a professional translator. All you need is to be proficient in at least two languages and be interested in volunteering. For this reason, Trommons is often used by students and talented bilinguals looking for a meaningful way to use their language ability and possibly develop their translation skills.

However, the survey also showed that an overwhelming majority (80%) of active Rosetta volunteers identify as professional or full-time translators. Similarly, many volunteers have formal training in languages (28%) or translation (37%).

While Trommons remains popular with students and translators starting out in the profession, most volunteers have some experience in translation, with over 40% having worked in translation for 2-5 years, and 26% boasting 10 or more years of experience.

  1. Rosetta volunteers are tech-savvy

Computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools are now an integral part of the translation environment, and over 70% of Rosetta volunteers are familiar with CAT tools, with many using them in their day-to-day work. An even greater number (80%) of translators said that they would be interested in using an online CAT tool when translating on Trommons.

According to the survey, the benefits of having an online CAT tool include improved speed and efficiency, better consistency across texts, and a chance to develop technical skills that would be useful in a professional context.

Some respondents demonstrated a clear preference for having a choice of CAT tool when translating in volunteer contexts, while others said that having access to a free online CAT tool would enable them to use technology that may otherwise be unavailable to them.

As one volunteer put it:

[Having an online CAT tool on Trommons] can help improve the quality of translations. [It] can [also help] current students of translation to get used to working with a CAT tool. It would also allow [you] to build glossaries as you translate several texts on the same topic or for the same organisation, or even for the organisations to provide a basic glossary of terms if they have one, to achieve more consistency in their texts even if using different translators. 

  1. Rosetta translators are motivated by helping others

Rosetta volunteers are overwhelmingly positive about their volunteering experience.

Q: In your own words, what are the things that you like the most about volunteering with The Rosetta Foundation?

word cloud Rosetta


 I love the diversity of the topics and I find everything so interesting. I love being able to help humanitarian charities and hopefully in doing so I make a difference

It gives me the opportunity to develop expertise and [gain] experience in humanitarian subjects, increase visibility as well as [contribute] to social and environmental causes.

[Being a Rosetta volunteer] makes me feel part of an important family.

[Volunteering] is an opportunity to improve the world using my skills.

Through the years I became more confident and accepted translation tasks from various companies of working fields I was not familiar with. From a personal point of view the fact that our translations are the bridge of communication between different communities and that it helps people in need makes me feel more human. All of this was possible because of The Rosetta Foundation.

As one may gather from the volunteer profiles that emerged from the survey, many Rosetta volunteers are interested in developing their translation skills and growing professionally. Over 60% said that gaining professional experience and skills is one reason why they volunteer.

An overwhelming majority of Rosetta volunteers (nearly 90%), however, are motivated by helping others and contributing to a good cause. This trait makes the Rosetta volunteer community very similar to that of Translators without Borders (TWB), which ranked the desire to do good well above other motivations, such as working in the humanitarian field, developing skills, or gaining professional visibility.

Volunteer motivations from survey

In fact, volunteers’ motivations and their professional backgrounds are not the only two similarities that link the two communities. In fact, we discovered that a fair number of volunteers donate their skills and time on both platforms or would be interested in doing so.

  1. The Rosetta Foundation and TWB volunteer communities

Of the translators who responded to The Rosetta Foundation community survey, 30% said they were also registered as TWB volunteer translators. In addition to that, some Rosetta volunteers had recently applied to be TWB translators or had considered joining the TWB community in the past, but felt that they needed to gain more translation experience, since translating for the TWB volunteer community requires a strong professional background and translation skills.

As the two organisations and communities merge, we are focusing  on offering volunteer translators even more opportunities to develop their skills and technical knowledge, as well as to participate in a translator mobility program for volunteers interested in furthering their qualifications and participating in a greater variety of projects.

In the coming weeks, we will be working with a focus group of volunteers to discuss some of the ways in which we can grow and strengthen our volunteer community. The focus group will include survey respondents who are active on the Rosetta and TWB platforms and have expressed interest in continuing the dialogue.

We would be happy to see other volunteers contribute to the focus group. If you would like to be included, please fill in this form by 26 November 2017, and we will get in touch.

If you have any questions about any of the points raised in this post, please email



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