The Woolly Mammoth has suspended its 2016 pledge drive after failing to bring in even a fraction of the money required to maintain its fundraising operations, according to anonymous sources within the Mammoth organization.
The failed pledge drive was intended to fund the effort to earn 503C status (making the Mammoth a tax-exempt, non-profit, non-governmental organization, or N.G.O.), along with “enrichment programs, office supplies, professional development, R&D, community outreach, grant writing, webinars, conferences at the Sheraton, and other fundraising activities.” But in more than six months, in spite of contributions from “thousands of small donors,” the drive raised only $275, less than two percent of its monthly target of $20,000.
The collapse of the pledge drive has exposed conflicts within the Mammoth’s administrative team, leading to a “finger-pointing-blame-game,” according to the Chronicle’s sources. While all sides agree the Mammoth team was “unable to establish norms, make or review an agenda, or go over talking points,” there are differing accounts as to where the actual work of the pledge drive went off course.
“One problem was the unpaid interns,” a higher-ranking official said. “The more money didn’t come in, the more unpaid they were, and so on. It was a viscous spiral.”
“They [the interns] spent most of their time building a wooden thermometer to measure our progress– and it turned out beautifully, don’t get me wrong– but it was never finished in time to display during the pledge drive itself,” the official said.
The interns tell a different story. “We shared a lot of google docs, photos, and comments,” one of them said, “but we were unable to effectively summarize the Mammoth’s mission, or give a rationale for donation.”
“We felt better about our radio spots,” another intern said, “but they ended up being broadcast over 1340 AM, an adult-contemporary station run by Pine Tree Media, in Poultney, southern Vermont– we never met with the programmers to establish a good working relationship. The colleagueship just wasn’t there.”
Another problem, according to mid-ranking officials, was the Mammoth leadership team’s decision to allocate scarce resources to the design of a new building, down behind the baseball field, which (if built) would house “wellness opportunities” for Mammoth employees, including a basketball court and swimming pool for “creative renewal.”
A Montreal architect, Denis L’Ecrouvier, designed the sprawling building. The project, still in the blueprint phase, has been funded by the Mammoth’s U-32 credit card, which has reportedly hit its $15,000 limit. The debt could mean some layoffs or transfers for Mammoth employees in the next year, officials said.
But even in such desperate straits, the Woolly Mammoth isn’t ready to quit. The organization has reportedly sent interns to Southeast Asia and the Persian Gulf, attempting to lure a major investor seeking citizenship through the federal EB-5 immigration program.
“We’re looking at building a cutting-edge recreational facility for fundraising at U-32,” one Mammoth vice-president told the Chronicle. “It would be a chairlift with an enclosed gondola, and six extreme-winter-sports trails, basically from the ropes course down over the bank into the river.”