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NGO Summer School 2023 - a school for future civic leaders

13 April 2023

Be part of the 11th edition of the NGO Summer School!


Applications open until 5 May 2023


You may have heard legends about the NGO Summer School. You may even know by heart stories of colleagues who have already gone through the school and have encouraged you to apply at the first opportunity. Or you may have just found out about the training programme.


No matter what brings you to this news, if you work in the NGO sector and are motivated to develop in it, one thing is certain:

The NGO Summer School 2023 will help you to build yourself as true leaders of civil society. It is worth going through this school!


What will the NGO Summer School be in 2023?

The NGO Summer School is an intensive 6-day training course to develop the knowledge and skills of future civic leaders. To be more knowledgeable, prepared and successful in working for the causes of their organizations. The program combines theoretical lectures with practical tasks to apply what you have learned, along with interactive activities and discussions on the most relevant topics for civil society.


The eleventh edition of the Summer School will take place from 4 to 9 June 2023 at a training facility on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast.

>> Application form

>> Application deadline: until 5 May 2023, inclusive

"Very good speakers! I liked the energy and willingness with which they spoke about the topics they presented. Things that - I admit - I would not have found interesting were presented in a cool way so that I could feel the value and meaning of them. Content-wise, almost all the sessions were extremely useful, but it was the way they were presented that made the most sense to me", participant feedback from NGO Summer School 2022


See the application conditions below.

What are the topics in the training programme in 2023?



What do we need to know and do to comply with all legal requirements and to manage our organisations in a transparent and accountable way?


"We want to be diligent and punctual" may sound dry and boring, but it is extremely valuable to the life of any organization. Therefore, we have prepared special thematic sessions for the Summer School participants. In them you will hear the most important things you need to know and remember to be diligent and compliant in following the law and running your organisation in a transparent and accountable way.


We will educate you on the basic rules of the Non-Profit Legal Entities Act (NPOA) and the requirements of the Registry Agency for NPOs. You will understand how non-profits can conduct business and why this is not prohibited by law when you comply with certain conditions. You will also learn about the taxation of NGOs, the specifics of protecting personal data and what anti-money laundering measures you need to implement.


"I learned a lot about the legal side of the NGO world, which will certainly be helpful, and it was a big hole in my knowledge," participant feedback from NGO Summer School 2022




What are the sources of funding for NGOs?

What are the principles of good financial management?

How to write convincing projects?

In these sessions we will talk about sources of funding, why it is important to diversify them and what are the principles of good planning and financial management. We will practice budgeting and financial reporting. We will also place special emphasis on writing compelling project proposals.



Do we know everything, or at least the essentials, to make a difference?

What is the advocacy process and how, when and with whom do we engage in it?

What are the tools of citizen participation and what do we need to consider?

When and with whom do we engage?


To achieve the change we want, we need to know how to advocate for it. And that means knowing the elements of the advocacy process well. In these sessions, you'll learn just that - how to fight for your causes and achieve your missions. We'll talk about the tools of civic engagement - when, where, what, with whom - including, we'll learn how to organize protest in our country.


We will put a special focus on current negative trends that prevent CSOs from advocating successfully and what we can do to overcome them. We will also share from our extensive 22 years of experience how we plan and organize advocacy campaigns.


"For me personally, the most useful parts were the discussions on topical issues and the opportunity to feel the power of united efforts - the realization that there are organizations with different scales, different missions, but we all need to work together. I also take away concrete messages from each session that give me ideas for my work and approach in specific situations."-NGO Summer School 2022 participant feedback



Can we talk about ourselves?

What and how can we express ourselves better - in writing and visually.

How do the media cover us and why is it important to create communication plans?

How important is it to stay up to date and active on social media?


We will provoke you with the question, "What do we say about ourselves when we tell about ourselves?" And of course - we will help you find the right answer. We will pay special attention to "NGO speak", building and maintaining a good public image, online and "offline".


Are we asking the right questions when planning a social media campaign, how do we decide what content will get our message across and how do we create His Majesty's Content - we will answer these and other questions in the sessions on communications.


You'll also learn how to attract and retain media attention to yourself, what the current trends are, and what the formula is for getting on the pulse of public life.



Our Summer School is a real school! Everything you will hear, you will have the chance to practice in real conditions. And we will help you in the training process.


Throughout the NGO Summer School program you will have a special mission - divided into small groups together with other participants, you will have to come up with common strategies and projects to solve pre-set problems. Teams will be supported with guidance and advice from the best mentors from BCNL and the NGO Portal.




Like any friendly community with common ideas, we don't forget to have fun and dream together. Get ready for some real mental and physical stimulation!

It was interesting and useful for me to learn about all the other activities I don't do in the organization. This way I will know what my colleagues are doing and have the whole picture in my head", participant feedback from the NGO Summer School 2022


Conditions of application

To apply for the NGO Summer School 2023 you are required to simultaneously meet the following 3 criteria:

1. Currently working in an association or foundation on a specific programme or initiative (i.e. not only performing administrative or technical functions),

2. Have no more than 5 years of experience in the civil society sector, and

3. Be able to attend the entire 6-day training course (June 4-9, 2023).


It is important to know that:

For participation in the NGO Summer School 2023 a participation fee* of 200 BGN is payable.

Transport costs are at the expense of the participant.

Places are limited to 17 participants.

Application is done with an online form.

The application form must be sent with the knowledge and consent of the official representative of the organisation nominating you.

Deadline for applications: 5 May 2023, inclusive


*The participation fee is equal to 20% of the cost of training for one person. The rest, which covers the cost of hotel accommodation, meals and the lecturer, is provided by a BCNL project supported by the America for Bulgaria Foundation.


**Single room accommodation. Other costs of the stay (accommodation, meals, coffee breaks) are covered by the organizer.


"I am extremely impressed with the good performance and the practical games. The daily tasks/cases/games are my favorite part. The training program was very well presented - simple and easy to understand", participant feedback from NGO Summer School 2022


If you have any questions, please contact us by email: or by phone: (+359) 88 851 99 91, contact person: Vasil Andreev, BCNL.