A common dilemma for beginning translators is not having enough experience to be considered by agencies and potential clients. Offering translations on a volunteer basis is one way to combat this problem.
There are many NPOs and NGOs in need of volunteer translation. They can be found using Google or a similar internet search engine. For local groups, enter NGO + the name of your town or city. You can also try your language combination + the expression "volunteer translation". Finally, you can find the websites of organizations whose work you champion and send them your CV via email.
You may also be able to find volunteer translation opportunities by contacting your church, synagogue, mosque, or temple. Or why not contact those organizations that contact you by mail requesting donations for poor children? And don't forget your local Chamber of Commerce. They may have networking sessions at which you could meet organizations and businesses to whom you could initially propose your services free of charge.
Below is a list of websites looking for volunteer translators:
www.ashoka.org (supports "social entrepreneurs")
www.partners.net/get_involved/volunteers.htm (translation and interpretation - English, Spanish, Portuguese)
www.kidlink.org (translation of children's websites; mostly into Spanish and other languages besides English)
www.idealist.com (membership costs $50/6 months or $95/year)
As a beginning translator, volunteer translation allows you the chance to make a practical assessment of your skills. You also get used to various aspects of the translator's profession, such as meeting deadlines. In addition to building confidence, volunteer translation can be included on your CV, but you must indicate that the work was done pro bono.
If you have little translation experience, it is a good idea to seek the help of a seasoned translator to proof-read your work and offer suggestions. As you will usually not receive feedback from those for whom you are doing volunteer work, this is a good way to ensure that you make progress while offering your services.