Update from Graeme Reekie and the Wren and Greyhound directors.

This is the hardest blog I’ve had to write, even though I’ve known for a few weeks that it’s been coming. In short, there’s been so much demand for our work since the start of this financial year that we’ve made the tough decision to close our doors to new referrals for at least the rest of the 2021 calendar year.

If that sounds drastic, here’s what we’re basing it on:

  • In a typical year, we have 40-50 main contracts.
  • Since April, we’ve already agreed 25. But on average they’re double the size of previous years.
  • This year’s revenue is already nearly the same as last year’s – six weeks into the year.
  • 70% our delivery days for 2021/22 are already accounted for (we use the calculation we shared in our recent guide to Managing Capacity to help assess and manage this).

What’s going on?

Some of this is a consequence of our own strategy since 2018, of prioritising the work we most want to do and where we make the biggest impact. As a few of you have said to me recently, ‘You’re the victims of your own success’.

But we don’t want to be victims, so we’re reclaiming that phrase.

We’re victors of our own success.

(There’s that episode of Friends where Chandler mocks Ross for complaining, saying ‘My diamond shoes are too tight!’ We don’t have diamond shoes, and if we did, I hope we’d know better than to complain about them!)

Anyway, we don’t think this is just about us, there’s something bigger at play in the wider sector.

  • 2020 saw a huge increase in short term funding – not for everyone, but for many.
  • Charities with prudent financial management made savings on premises, travel and events.
  • Charities with good governance realise that such improvements in fortune are ephemeral.
  • They are investing this year in their capacity and sustainability in future years. Just what we’d advise.

As a result, the briefs we’ve been getting are about delivering fuller strategic planning processes, deeper stakeholder engagement exercises and larger cross-sector learning partnerships.

Taking our medicine

Of course, the irony isn’t lost on us that we’re the ones who make a living from telling other people to say no, manage capacity, prioritise quality and focus on core purpose. So although this is a hard decision (for us) to accept, we’re doing it because, as usual, we need to practise what we preach.

We aren’t saying ‘no’ to work, we’re saying yes to:

  • Quality: Putting existing clients and contracts first.
  • Capacity: Our own wellbeing and goals.
  • Congruence: Taking our own medicine.

We’re also not saying ‘no’; we’re saying ‘not now’. We won’t be able to take on new contracts until January 2022 at the earliest. But our doors are always open to people who have long term plans and big ideas, so talk to us if that sounds like you.

We also hope you’ll talk to us if you have any questions or concerns. We know that we’re exceptionally lucky to do the work we love, with the people and organisations we care passionately about. We’re confident that you’ll support us in the decision we’re making. Just don’t call us victims – the success is all yours.

NB If you’ve already had a proposal from us, don’t worry, we’ve factored you into our planning – but don’t hang about!