The story behind Business English for NGOs…
Who are you?
My name is Ryan Turner. My work focuses on social impact organizations in Central and Eastern Europe, in addition to ongoing engagements with clients in the United States. I am a proud native of Richmond, Virginia; an active alumnus of Princeton University; and a current resident of Prague, Czech Republic.
What is your background?
For more than 20 years, I’ve served as a strategy guide, resource scout, and people connector for NGOs in the U.S. and internationally. I have served as a volunteer, consultant, and advocate for civil society, social entrepreneurship, philanthropy, and corporate social responsibility efforts in Central Europe and Eastern Europe.
Why the name?
I started Business English for NGOs to help social impact organizations with English language communication skills for their development and fundraising goals. Organizations that do not have the capacity or confidence to engage with English language resources often face significant barriers to achieving funding and support necessary to thrive and grow.
So, what do you actually do?
I work primarily with non-profit / non-governmental organization teams, social impact leaders, and purpose-driven entrepreneurs to achieve success in their organizational development and fundraising goals. My services include proposal writing, fundraising consultations, and subject matter expertise for projects and programs. I also provide English language coaching for individuals and small groups upon request.
Who do you work with?
My clients include non-governmental / non-profit organizations, social enterprises, foundations, charities, and public-private partnerships. Some organizations want to improve their fundraising capacity. Some organizations want to know about alternatives to traditional funding. We enjoy the opportunity to work with different types of groups across the wide spectrum of social change.
How much do you charge?
It depends on the type of work, length of time, and level of effort required. Before working together, we schedule time (face-to-face or online) to talk through your goals, your expectations, and your specific needs. This initial conversation helps to identify existing strengths, ongoing challenges, and potential options for your organization’s success. Whether it is a one-time chat, intensive set of activities, or a long-term role, my focus to help your organization reach its social purpose goals while respecting your budget needs and capacity.
Why do you do this work?
I am inspired by friends and colleagues around the world who care about empowering people and communities for purposeful, mindful, and sustainable social good. From volunteering to voting, non-profit organizations have played an important role in my professional and personal spheres.

I grew up in a family where community participation, neighborhood involvement, and civic engagement mattered as much as academic achievement.  One of the most important values in our home was to connect with something larger than yourself, and to follow your passion in life towards meaningful and purposeful actions. My parents also encouraged me to learn about, discuss, and speak out on social issues that concerned me; and to build relationships with people from different backgrounds and perspectives. 

As a university student, I met young people from Central and Eastern Europe before the revolutions of 1989. I admired their passion and optimism as they committed themselves to helping their home countries transition from old regimes to new democracies.  Five years after the Velvet Revolution, I travelled to Europe for the first time. The Czech Republic and Poland were among the first places I visited. The people and communities throughout the CEE region continue to hold a special place in my thoughts and actions.

What is your Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG)*?
My BHAG is to change the mentality in the CEE region regarding support for NGOs.

Organizations need resources to achieve their goals. But organizations also often face a difficult choice between taking a risk on new and unfamiliar strategies, at the expense of losing their stability; or focusing on their existing efforts at the cost of ignoring additional support. This is especially true for NGOs dependent solely on government funding, charitable contributions, or small donor support.

Diversification of funding helps to ensure consistency in difficult times, and positioning for success in good times. Yet NGOs face increasing demand for their services and decreasing availability of traditional funding. These challenges are particularly intense for NGOs and social enterprises that are limited in their English language abilities.

Many potential resource channels are ignored, overlooked, or underused by groups that lack the time, skill, or knowledge to access funding and support that is often available only (or primarily) in English language formats. Limited information, unfamiliarity with strategy options, and lack of confidence in moving outside comfort zones leaves too many good groups vulnerable changing circumstances.

I aim to increase the level of access to existing and emerging funding. I hope to position more organizations towards greater long-range stability, growth, and success. Ans I seek to expand the perspectives around the value of NGO work, social enterprises, and philanthropy across the CEE region.

Can you guarantee that our organization will get lots of money, visibility, supporters, and influence?
Development is not an easy process with immediate results or guaranteed outcomes. Organizations must be willing to invest time and energy. Leaders and teams must be open to creativity and discovery, while remaining true to their values and priorities. Everyone involved must accept risks towards greater outcomes. Every attempt provides an opportunity to learn, to improve, and to grow good works for greater social benefit. All of this can be an intense challenge, but we enjoy every opportunity to help good groups grow great things. And we make every effort to keep it interesting and fun along the way.