The Constitution, the Rules of Engagement and the Playbook: A nonprofit framework

team-1317270_1280The number of nonprofit organizations registered with the IRS increased 2.8% from 2003 to 2013, for a total of 1.41 million organizations.[i] Meaning that even during the recession they showed momentum, and they contributed an estimated US $905,9 billion to the economy (2013).[ii]

Professional associations are a type of nonprofit and they aim to serve the needs of specialized groups. In exchange for their services they earn exemptions from the government according to IRS and states’ rules and regulations. The IRS offers a wealth of information on non-profits, how to incorporate, required language, how to choose the type that fits your objectives, etc. See the reference section below for a collection of related websites.[iii]

Once you identify the form your entity will take, it is time to develop the documents that will guide it into the future.

The Articles of Incorporation are your association’s constitution. It will define its name, place of business, objectives, how it will be governed, and terminated. Click here for some useful information.

Another important document is the Bylaws. It defines the rules of engagement. For example, in the Articles of Incorporation the association determines that Board members will be elected by voting members. In the Bylaws you determine how often these elections will take place, how they are staggered to allow for  old and new members to work side-by-side, how long the terms are, how many times one can be reelected, how the elections will be carried out, how to handle board vacancies, how to handle members’ complaint, etc. Click here to see samples.

The third document you need is your Procedures Manual, the playbook. In it the association defines routine procedures to avoid duplication of tasks, increase efficacy and efficiency, appoint who is going to do what and how. Keeping with the elections theme, in the Procedures Manual there would be templates for the documents used during election: notice to members, package for candidates, calendar of elections; rules on how to establish an Election/Nominations Committee, etc. I found a good starting point for a Procedures Manual here.

Another important point: all documents are organic and should be updated as needed. The growth and maturity of the organization are to be reflected in those documents for the good health of the organization.

It is important to understand that a non-profit is a business: You have a product, goals, stakeholders (you call them “members”). You need a corporate identity; instead of departments, you have committees; you will need administrative personnel. You will need to define talking points, long-, short- and short-short-term goals, then, you assign those to someone. Meaning, identifying the need for an action is not enough, you need to assign the action to someone who will be held accountable.

Finances are a very important part of your growth and continuity. Once you reach a strong financial position (3 times your operating expenses, for example), create a Reserve, an Operational and a Projects accounts. The Reserve Account is a guarantee for the future of the organization and should not be tapped except for emergencies; the Operational Account includes petty cash, recurring payments, etc.; and the Projects account is supposed to cover expenses with the entity’s main goal(s). The way the Board decides to divvy up the treasury, determines how funds are to be allocated from there on, i.e. funds coming into the entity are to be divided into each of those accounts. They can be accrued and divided at the end of a previously agreed upon period, but all accounts should receive a portion of funds coming into the treasury. You also need to plan for continuity. The three framework documents, the reserve account and elections are your strategic pilars.

The strength of your organization rests with your members. Keeping them engaged and committed is vital for a vibrant organization. Showcasing your members’ talents is a great way to foster loyalty and commitment. In the organization I presided, board members were encouraged to participate in at least one committee. Committees were chaired by non-board members and the board member became the liaison to the Board, providing direct access. Through committee work, members become familiar with the workings of the organization and, later on may serve on the Board. Members will become engaged when there are well defined goals that meet their needs, when they see their work recognized, when their involvement has a specific beginning and end, when their dues are turned into value beyond the actual cost.

Creating aggregate value for their membership is easy to accomplish through relationships with other associations and vendors. Offer those associations and vendors the opportunity to speak to your members or to sponsor an event, such as providing refreshments in exchange for their name on the program and promotional material as sponsors. Offer also to speak at their meetings. Contact the American Translators Association (ATA), International Medical Interpreters Association (IMIA), Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI) and the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters to see about continuing education points. Some presentations can cross professions: medical terminology can be used by translators and medical, court and conference interpreters.

Just like a family or other organic groups, there are phases in the life of an organization.  Once I was point-blank asked if I was sick because I chose to leave a leadership position. Leaders also have to set goals and realize when it is time let other voices have their thunder.

It is emotionally cathartic to go through the experience. And it is very important to know the signs. Sometimes the signs do not come from your organization, but from people close to you who miss your presence in their lives; sometimes it is the organization that is acting like a well-reared teenager. Either way, the moment comes to let others have the strength of their voices heard. It is your moment to feel proud, step back and enjoy.

 

By Gio Lester, special for Interpreter Education Online

 

[i] Non-profit Sector in Brief 2014 – http://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/alfresco/publication-pdfs/413277-The-Nonprofit-Sector-in-Brief–.PDF

[ii] http://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/alfresco/publication-pdfs/2000497-The-Nonprofit-Sector-in-Brief-2015-Public-Charities-Giving-and-Volunteering.pdf

[iii] http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Life-Cycle-of-an-Exempt-Organization

http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Other-Non-Profits/Life-Cycle-of-a-Business-League-(Trade-Association)

http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-tege/c6_lifecyclechart_090811.pdf

http://www.mcknight.org/resource-library/general

http://www.npgoodpractice.org/topics/Board-Members-Guide-to-Partnership-Planning

http://www.ehow.com/info_7758501_difference-between-501c3-501c6.html

 

Other References:

National Center for Charitable Statistics: http://nccs.urban.org/statistics/upload/US_Nonprofit_Numbers-2.pdf

 

Certificate vs. Certification for Interpreters: What’s the Difference? part 1

quality-control-1257235_640This week’s blog will be the first part of a four-part series. We’ll be looking at the difference between interpreter certification versus interpreter training (that often leads to a certificate).

Part 1 will clarify the difference between what it means to be a certified interpreter as compared to having obtained a certificate of training. Part 2 will detail all of the currently available certifications for interpreters, at both the state and federal levels, for ASL (American Sign Language) and for spoken language interpreters. Part 3 will cover training requirements related to these certifications and how to find quality training for yourself locally. We’ll look at quality training for interpreters and translators, and look at courses specifically created for interpreters who work in healthcare and the courts.  Part 4 will review quality trainings available online.

Being bilingual does not automatically indicate or equal the ability to interpret. Just as the needed skill sets for interpreting as compared to translating are remarkably different, a similar case can be made for bilingualism not being a sufficient guarantee of competency for one to work as an interpreter. This is particularly true for Heritage speakers.

Increasingly, more and more hospitals are moving to a policy of only allowing certified interpreters, even if booked through an agency, on-site. All 50 states individually require all interpreters to be certified or registered as a court interpreter with the AOC (Administrative Office of the Courts).

It is important for interpreters to understand which certifications provide valid credentials so they may choose intelligently among the options that are available to them.

So, let’s understand what it meant when someone says they are “certified.” Many people conflate the meaning of ‘certified’ with having a ‘certificate.’

A certificate of completion, or a certificate of attendance, is not the same thing, nor is it equal to being nationally or state certified. Being certified means your proficiency has been assessed impartially by a third party. It is official recognition by the certifying body that you possess certain qualifications and meet certain standards. A certificate, on the other hand, attests to attendance and successful completion of a course of study or targeted training. Certificates are issued by the same entity that offered the training, rather than an impartial third party who developed and administered the proficiency tests.

There are many national certifications available to spoken language and ASL interpreters, for specific practice areas such as court, conference and healthcare, but there aren’t nearly as many certifying bodies.

Here below are the acronyms you should be looking for as you research interpreter trainings, as these organizations are the only certifying national bodies for interpreters. ASL interpreters do not have a medical sub-specialty credential yet that is offered by their national certifying body.

The official certifying bodies for each sub-specialty are as follows:

For ASL:

For spoken language interpreters in courts:

  • AOC (Administrative Office of the Courts), each state has their own AOC

For spoken language interpreters in healthcare:

For spoken language interpreters in conferences:

For Translators:

Becoming certified offers many advantages in terms of employability, rates paid, as well as your own professional development. All certifications require continuing education units to stay viable, and these CEs need to be completed within specified time-frames. This ensures that all certified individuals keep their skills sharp and up to date to deliver the best language access services to clients.

You should visit the site for the organization that administers the certification tests for your area of specialization. They will spell out what is required to obtain, as well as what is required to maintain, your certification.

Just because you are certified in one sub-specialty, does not mean you can skip the certification process for a different sub-specialty. Someone who is court-certified is not sufficiently trained in medical terminology and medical ethics/standards of practice/HIPAA to do the job in a healthcare setting, even though they may possess excellent language skills in English and the target language, and excellent conversion skills for either consecutive or simultaneous interpretation. They would still lack subject matter expertise, bilingual medical terminology and knowledge of process for clinics and hospitals. The same holds true for a healthcare interpreter attempting to interpret for a court session. Acting outside your area of specialization could put your client or patient at risk, or compromise the case should it even go to appeal.

Part 2 of this blog will detail all the available certifications by practice area, so you can decide for yourself which one would be the best fit for you.

Eliana Lobo, 

Special for IEO

Teaching a child Sign Language

Deaf children born to hearing parents are traditionally deprived of language for several years, if no one in the child’s family knows Sign Language. The deprivation can be prevented with the means of the most readily available language for Deaf children – Sign Language. Parents can learn along with their children to help promote the innate ability of children to cope, learn, and adapt to anything and everything life throws at them.

Children cannot begin to use speech until after their vocal chords mature. On the other hand, babies can begin to learn Sign Language from birth. If a parent were to start with ten basic signs, their child will be able to start communicating right away. Experts say that a child should have mastery of 25 words by the time they are 2 years old. If a parent were to use those 25 words from the day a child is born, the child could have those words mastered before other children of the same age. A parent could add a modest 3 words per week after 6 months. That would mean a child would know more than 100 words before they turn 2 years old.

The Nyle DiMarco Foundation was created by the famous Deaf actor, winner of America’s Next Top Model Cycle 22 and the winner of Dancing with the Stars 2016. Its website states, “The Foundation aims to improve access to accurate, research-based information about early language acquisition–specifically, the bilingual education approach. Through the early intervention process, the child’s language and literacy development should be the focal point.”

There are also several children stories in ASL that can help teach your child different concepts: language, literacy, numbers, facial expressions, and various school readiness skills. Parents can learn, too. Another positive side effect: your little one will not be able to pick up the words the neighbors use to curse at each other. All kidding aside, teaching your child Sign Language from birth will help to improve their language and communication skills. It will prevent your baby from crying in frustration, since you will know what they want they first time they sign it.

Chip Watts

Communicating in a New Era

Effective communication has always been a necessary tool for personal and professional encounters. Essays, books, blogs, and more, have been written about how to learn to communicate better. Most of these tips include things like paying attention to your tone, being focused on the conversation at hand, being an engaged listener, knowing what your body language is saying, avoiding overly emotional conversations until enough time has passed to look at a situation objectively, and much more. These are all very useful and relevant guidelines to effective communication.

But with the advancement of technology come new obstacles in the already challenging world of communication. Emails have become the preferred method of communication for most businesses, allowing for quick responses, group meetings, and a lot of other helpful professional uses. Email, however, does not include body language or vocal inflection, and can commonly be misconstrued. Not only does email lack the physical and audible elements of communication, but how an email is written, signed, addressed, and the fonts, caps, punctuations, etc. used can all create hurdles in your meaning coming through the way you intended.

Email is not the only technological advancement, either. Businesses are also turning to instant messaging and text messaging as faster, more efficient modes of communication. This creates entirely new barriers in communicating effectively, and can be tricky when trying to remain professional.

Communication is a difficult but inherent part of all daily routines, whether at work, home, school, or at a restaurant. As we advance and move from words to emojis, reliance on text over face-to-face, translating software, and near-daily word additions to the common dictionary, communication continues to change which requires a constant need for understanding how to communicate with efficiency and courtesy, while still remaining true to your intention. Interpreter Education Online is a leader in helping interpreters better their knowledge and education in order to help communication in different languages. But we also promote healthy business practices and offer monthly webinars on various topics to improve your general understanding of communication in the workplace, and personal advancement. Join the conversation on LinkedIn and Facebook, and let us know what works for your effective communication!

Webinar Series: Up Next!

IEO has recently implemented a new series of webinars for interpreters, which kicked off with Bruce Adelson’s highly acclaimed “Interpreter Standards of Conduct and the Law.” Up next, we will be featuring “Interpreter Self-Assessment” with Eliana Lobo.

This webinar is for both novice and experienced interpreters to learn how to self-assess their own skills, and how to design skills and drills practice to improve weak areas. The presentation is geared towards working interpreters, showing them how to enhance their remote persona as well as assess their own interpreting skills. Tips and techniques for improved performance on the job and self-assessment will be offered. The opportunity to practice specific skill building exercises will be made available to the attendees in the form of a group exercise. Links to additional practice drills and skill building videos are also provided. Suggestions for how to utilize these resources and measure and assess one’s progress will be shared along with a worksheet to print out and use to track progress and skills improvement over time.

Eliana Lobo is a native speaker of English and Portuguese, with a master’s degree in Bilingual Education from Brown University, where she taught Portuguese as a Teaching Fellow, and awarded a Fulbright Grant to conduct research in Brazil. An experienced court and medical interpreter, Eliana is a WA state authorized medical interpreter, a certified Trainer of medical interpreters, and a CoreCHI healthcare interpreter. Currently, Director of Multicultural Awareness Programs & Services, a division of Bromberg & Associates, Eliana was formerly the Supervisor/ Trainer of Interpreters for seven years at Harborview, a regional trauma center/ teaching hospital, with 49 staff interpreters.

Eliana is a member of NCIHC’s “Home for Trainers” workgroup, hosting webinars for medical interpreter trainers, (the winner of ProZ’s 2014 Community Choice Award, for “Best Training Series”) http://www.proz.com/community-choice-awards .
The webinar will take place on Tuesday, June 21st, from 1:00 PM EST until 2:00 PM EST and is available for registration starting today! The cost is $35 until June 17th, when late registration will take the price to $45. Slots fill up quickly, so be sure to keep an eye out. And let us know how webinars better you as an interpreter! Join the conversation on our LinkedIn and Facebook pages!

Joining the Workforce

It can be a very daunting idea – joining or re-joining the workforce.  Whether you are just leaving college and about to enter into the workforce for the first time, or you have been working for a long time but had to take a break because of having a baby, going back to school, or a myriad of other reasons, it is a challenge that could scare anyone.

There are many easy steps, tips, and advice blogs out there for just that purpose. There are also counselors, statistics, and professionals that specialize in the category. The good news for those entering the workforce for the first time is that colleges are better preparing students for a long term career, and large companies like Google are starting to hire people just out of college or even high school.  For those re-entering the workforce, experience and ability to self-assess are valuable assets to employers.

So how do you prepare and what can you tell yourself to best equip you for the task at hand?

Get to know the industry. So many sites exist online, like LinkedIn, Facebook, and more, in addition to the blog after blog, customer review, and online transparency of most companies today. Look at the company in depth, see who is competing for the job you’re going for, and truthfully take a look at your skills in comparison. Risk taking could be a bold statement to employers if you have the right attitude and passion for the job and the company.

It’s incredibly important to remember to be true to yourself. Just as companies are becoming more transparent thanks to online blogs and reviews, people are also pretty visible online now. What you do is documented in social media pictures, posts, and other things you may not even know about. Own who you are, own your mistakes, and look at them as opportunities.

The bottom line is that preparing yourself is the first step, and that starts with education and research. We at Interpreter Education Online can offer both if your field of choice is Interpretation or Translation. Even if not, we may be able to point you in the right direction! Join the conversation on Facebook and LinkedIn!

 

The Future of Online Learning

Society often has its ways of “predicting” the future. We see it in films, books, and scientific studies. Some predictions are incredibly accurate while others completely miss the mark. One prediction, however, has not only been accurate, but continues to grow beyond its original scope – that is the future of online learning.

In 2010, online learning was on the rise, with over a million students more than the previous year in college classes. In 2011, nearly 30% of all college and university students were enrolled in at least one online class. That number has only continued to grow.

As the technology advances and our ability to access and utilize technology becomes easier, learning and training take on new forms yearly. What was the new trend last year has quickly become old hat as new trends take over. The access to smartphones and tablets has increased substantially and most employees have at least one, if not both. In business, this means that training employees has never been more cost efficient or effective. Through these advances, businesses are able to create in demand training that can even go so far as to offer real-time training at the push of a button. The decreasing cost of HD cameras, video editing software, and ready availability of access to clouds and increased bandwidth make it surprisingly easy for even the smallest of businesses to train their employees at a fraction of previous costs.

Video content is predicted to be the most in-demand kind of training in the next ten years and short term, real-time training is expected to take over. With 24 hour access to the internet and the ability to work on one’s own schedule, it seems that businesses should be paying close attention to this trend and utilizing it to the best of their abilities.

Interpreter Education Online has been a force in the online learning community since its inception, and continues to adapt to these training trends.  Our new series on webinars offer a concise list of in-demand subject matter for low cost and easy access. Check out what we have to offer and join the conversation on Facebook and LinkedIn! Your voice matters!

Know the Law

Interpreters are faced with many difficult challenges. Those in the medical, community,  and legal fields have many laws, rules, and guidelines to follow, on top of the interpreter code of ethics. In the hospital or in the courtroom, an interpreter and his or her accurate interpretation can sometimes mean the difference between life and death, or innocent or guilty. More and more hospitals are turning to certified interpreters, and the legal field is doing the same. But certification doesn’t necessarily ensure that each interpreter stays up to date on laws, or their varying applications at the Federal and State levels.

Did you know that a new study has shown medical errors are now the third leading cause of death, after heart disease and cancer? It’s astounding, to say the least. And the news is filled with stories about court cases being compromised because of a wrong interpretation or lack of proper interpretation.

As the demand for interpreters grows, so do some organization’s oversights in hiring qualified and certified interpreters. So what can you do to ensure you are doing everything you can to adhere to all the laws, rules, codes, and guidelines of the industry?

Continuing education is always helpful, as is knowledge of terminology and procedure. Courses such as these are offered at Interpreter Education Online.

We are also offering an exclusive webinar on May 24th, with Bruce Adelson, a former DOJ prosecutor and expert in federal compliance. This webinar, entitled “Interpreter Standards of Conduct and the Law”, will go over the essentials of HIPAA, codes of ethics, and federal law. It is an imperative learning experience for medical and legal interpreters alike. The webinar is $45 if you register by May 20th, and $55 after May 20th. This is the second webinar in a new series with more to come every month. Join us May 24th and beyond, and join the conversation on our Facebook and LinkedIn pages!

The Value of Webinars

It’s no secret that webinars have been a growing trend in every industry for a while now. Attending a live seminar or conference is obviously beneficial, as is taking an online training course. But a webinar speaks to the heart of our fast-paced and steadily increasing business world’s main need: “get it done now, and move on to the next task.”

A webinar allows you to learn a great deal about a specialized topic while at the comfort of your desk or home computer. It cuts down on travel time and still allows you to participate via live chats and the live broadcast. It takes an hour or two out of your day compared to half a day or even a full day.

The benefits are not just ease of access and comfort, either. A study shows that webinars in the professional community are 87% as effective or more effective than in person or online learning. In addition, 76% of trainers use the same materials in their webinars that they do for online or in person training.

Interpreter Education Online is happy to join the trend. Kicking off May 3rd is our first webinar, hosted by renowned CEO and interpreter Jinny Bromberg. It deals with Vicarious Trauma, the emotional residue of exposure to various traumatic situations that many professions, including interpreters may carry with them. Accredited by CCHI for CEUs, this webinar is only $30 and lasts for one hour.

On May 24th, hugely successful federal consultant and advocate Bruce Adelson takes on our second webinar, covering HIPAA for interpreters. This webinar is $45 and lasts for one hour, also accredited by CCHI.

Visit our site today and join the conversation on LinkedIn and Facebook!

The New Health Epidemic

You won’t hear about this on the news. You aren’t likely to encounter it on social media either. The epidemic sweeping the nation isn’t a new virus, or a rare re-surfacing of an old one. It is, quite simply, stress. That’s right, The World Health Organization has deemed stress the “health epidemic of the 21st century.” While work-life balance has always been a struggle, it has become increasingly necessary and yet nearly impossible to accomplish. The introduction and progression of technology and supply-demand keep professionals engaged in their work 24/7, leaving little room for balance. And it’s not only individuals who are suffering from this epidemic. Businesses are spending countless amounts of money to try to alleviate stress in the workplace.

It may seem like stress is just an inevitable part of life, and maybe not that serious. But the cost of managing stress and its symptoms is more than the treatment of cancer, smoking, diabetes and heart disease combined.  It is a one trillion dollar health epidemic. A little more serious than we thought! Doctor Andrea Purcell explains that stress causes a scientific hormone imbalance, which can lead to any number of symptoms and illnesses. Addictive behavior, depression, obesity, insomnia, allergies, skin disorders – to name a few – can all be brought on by stress.

So what can you do? Those memes you see online about taking it a day at a time, living a life of gratitude, and shifting your perspective are all correct. Stress is managed by changing habits, taking time for oneself, and understanding your needs. It sounds like a simple solution, but it is challenging to add time for meditation, exercise, or any other activity/mindset that could help relieve the damages of stress.

Challenging, but not impossible. Do yourself a favor, and take a moment out of every day to check in with your stress levels. Address problems as they come up, and pay attention to the world around you. Disengage from your phone for a while. Learn something new, and expand your horizons. Interpreter Education Online is a great way to give you a mental shift and put your focus on furthering your education or easing the difficulty of training a bilingual staff. Let us work for you! Join the conversation on LinkedIn and Facebook today!