JewishGen Yizkor Book
How to Set Up a Fundraising Project
By Joyce Field
This is a brief outline of how to set up a fundraising
project which focuses on answering the most common queries:
The most perplexing questions are "HOW TO":
how to raise money for the translation of a yizkor book
how to coordinate a project, including the amount of
time and specific skills needed for the task.
Having become frustrated with the task of organizing
volunteers to do translations, many people want a different approach. Typical
Our conclusion is that working with volunteer translators
--although less expensive than paying a translator--can be unnerving, frustrating,
and unproductive. Sometimes we allow a poor quality translation to get
online because we don't want to hurt the translator's feelings and because
the amount of good may outweigh the bad. Then we receive private emails
castigating us for not upholding certain standards and suggesting that
there be a review board to evaluate all translations--something like peer
review used for academic journals or books. We have resisted that approach
because if we went in that direction, nothing would get online. So we had
to find the middle way. And that way is the Yizkor Book Fundraising Project.
People volunteer to do work and then find many distractions
which interfere with the task.
Problem: can't meet any deadlines.
Volunteers have varying capabilities with the original
language (Hebrew, Yiddish) and also with English. If their skills with
the original language are poor, there will be many blank spaces and/or
question marks to indicate untranslatable words or phrases. If their skills
with English are poor, then the translation is not readable.
Problem: the quality of the translation
is poor and the coordinator may have to do considerable editing and/or
rewriting or ask someone else to work on the same passage.
Or, not wanting to hurt the volunteer's feelings, the
coordinator transmits the poor translation to the Translations Manager,
perhaps knowing that the Manager will reject it. Thus, the coordinator
can pass the responsibility of rejecting a translation to the Yizkor Book
Project and be absolved of the unenviable task of relaying the truth.
Problem: The Translations Manager has
to read the translation, determine if it can be salvaged, spend time trying
to rewrite it or returning it to the coordinator. In such a scenario no
one's time is used productively and often the frustration level of the
coordinator rises to the point that he/she wants to resign from this position.
How to Start a Fundraising Project
Most yizkor books were written in Yiddish and/or Hebrew
and thus will need to be translated into English to make them accessible
to genealogical researchers who cannot read them in the original languages.
A Coordinator is needed for each yizkor book translation.
In order to proceed with a particular
translation, it is efficient to have one person acting as the Coordinator
of the group funding the translation. Briefly, the role of the Coordinator
find interested persons to contribute to the translation
select and work with a translator
inform the translator that he/she will have to sign
a Work for Hire agreement*
may assist with copyright clearance--if appropriate
There are two models for funding new translation projects,
each with its own advantages. The pros and cons of each approach is discussed
in another section at http://www.jewishgen.org/yizkor/donation/.
Whichever method is selected, we will still need to secure the permission
of the copyright holder.
The choice is up to the persons organizing each project.
Under Method 1, since the money is donated directly to JewishGen, the tax
deductibility of the contribution is clear and the Coordinator is relieved
fiscal and many administrative responsibilities. Under Method 2, the group
retains the ownership of the translation. In both cases, there is a cooperative
working relationship between the Project Coordinator and the Translations
Method 1: JewishGen acts as fiscal agent
All contributions are sent to JewishGen and are deposited
into a dedicated account earmarked only for the translation of your designated
Donors' funds are recognized as charitable contributions
to JewishGen, which is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization.
Coordinator selects the translator, works out financial
details, and communicates them to the Translations Manager.
Coordinator selects the order of passages to be translated.
JewishGen will execute a Work for Hire Agreement with
the translator the Coordinator selects.
JewishGen will pay the translator up to the amount available
in the designated account after various sections are completed. It is assumed
that funds will be collected over time and that the translation will be
done in parts as the funds are donated. For example, the Structural Elements--that
is, the Table of Contents and the Necrology (list of persons killed)--
could be translated and published on the Web while the Coordinator solicits
enough funds to pay for the translation of various chapters. Either the
Coordinator or the group of donors can determine the sequence of the material
to be translated.
JewishGen will have exclusive rights to the translation
as the funds were donated to JewishGen and dispersed by JewishGen. Personal
copies may, of course, be made.
Method 2: Group acts as fiscal agent
The Coordinator will collect the funds to pay for translation
on behalf of the group.
The Coordinator--or the group--will select a translator.
The Coordinator will have the translator sign a Work
for Hire Agreement which will also be signed by theCoordinator and will
be transmitted to JewishGen.
The Coordinator will pay the translator.
Individual donors will work with their tax advisors
on the issue of a tax deduction of funds used to pay the translator's fees.
The translation will be donated to JewishGen on a non-exclusive
basis, giving JG the right to publish the translation on the Yizkor Book
web site. In other words, the group will own the translation.
How to find potential donors to the translation fund
This has to be the most difficult task of the Coordinator.
Most of us are not good at asking others for donations. Ands most of us
don't even know how to find likely donors. Here are a few suggestions for
developing a donor list. These suggestions focus on a Yizkor Book Fundraising
Project so that contributors will receive a charitable deduction.
Post a message on the Yizkor book digest, JewishGen
digest and appropriate SIG digests that you are beginning a yizkor book
translation project for your community and want to set up the project as a
Yizkor book fundraising project, which will mean that donors can make tax-deductible
contributions to JewishGen, a 501 (c ) (3) organization. It is a good idea
to ask for contributions at times known as propitious for contributions:
Pesach, Purim, Rosh HaShana, and December, when people traditionally make
end of the year contributions.
Check the Yizkor Book database for people who have listed
themselves as interested in and willing to help pay for a translation.
Include those names in your solicitation database.
Do a query under the community name in Family Finder and
print out all the names of people interested in your community. Put them in
Make a list of your family members whom you might ask
for donations. Talk to them at simchas or at sad times, when they might
be interested in making a memorial contribution. Ask them to specify that
in lieu of flowers people contribute to a living memorial--a fund to translate
a yizkor book.
Write a letter to all the potential donors in your database
asking your landsleit to make tax-deductible donations to the translation
fund. Tell people your plans of getting the material translated and on
the web: the sequence of chapters, the skills of the translator, and the
total cost of the translation of the book. Ask for contributions over time
because this will be a project that could extend over a year or more. Monthly
or quarterly donations by electronic transmission can be arranged.
How to Select a Translator
Another perplexing problem is the selection of a translator.
These are the suggestions I have developed over time. This can be a time-consuming
but a vital task. If you become unhappy with the translator later on, making
a change will be difficult and emotionally draining, so put the effort
up front in selecting the right person for the job.
Click on to the Yizkor Book Infofile for Translators.
Select a number of them and ask each one the same questions. You should
also ask friends, colleagues, anyone else you can think of for names of
what are your fees? Some charge by the hour, by the
page of the original, or by the word in the original. Ask if the fee can
be adjusted for translating the entire book.
ask them if they will translate a paragraph from the
original so you can evaluate the translation and if they will estimate
how much they would charge for a sample page. Send each translator a copy
of the same page, circling the paragraph you want them to translate. If
the person refuses to do this, you will have to decide how to handle the
situation. A refusal could be a harbinger of future problems.
when you receive the translation and the estimate, you
will then have some objective means for evaluating the different translators'
work and fees. Do not be reluctant to ask others who are well skilled in
the original language and in English to evaluate the translation.
Other factors to consider:
the translator must be computer literate and be able
to put the translation into computer format; otherwise, you will adding
an enormous amount of time to the process which will not be paid for with
translation funds. We cannot do scanning, OCR input, and proofreading for
the translator should provide references that you can
check. Ask the references how easy the translator was to work with, whether
he/she met deadlines, and for an overall evaluation of the quality of the
the translator must be willing to work within constraints
of the JewishGen system regarding payment and need to do revisions to meet
When you see the first fruits of your labor--the first
part of the translation online--and start receiving bravos from friends,
family, and landsleit, all this effort will be worthwhile.
* The Work for Hire agreement will no longer be publicly available at this site. It can now be initiated only by a JewishGen Vice President. Lance Ackerfeld, JewishGen Yizkor Book Project Manager
, will handle the distribution of this agreement when required by a fundraising project. Contact him at Lance Ackerfeld.
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Updated 2 Oct 2009 by LA