May 2016 | Preserve Our Paradise Campaign
Preserve our Paradise


Preserve Our Paradise Campaign Newsletter

In this issue:

Campaign update
What impact will last winter have on the campaign?
The role of an endowment for Mad River Glen
Upcoming MRG events

Campaign update

As many of you are aware, the campaign is currently in what is commonly known as the “quiet phase.” In fundraising best practice, prior to announcing a public campaign and setting up public donation channels and fundraising events, the campaign quietly solicits campaign prospects, starting initially with the leadership of the organization, and then gradually working outward. Over time the campaign builds a volunteer network of early donors who then solicit additional prospects. This process builds momentum for the campaign so when it goes public, a substantial portion of the funds have already been raised and the campaign can demonstrate that it is credible and will be successful as it reaches out to a larger audience.

It takes time to build this network, educate volunteers, and build ongoing relationships with prospective donors, and this type of large-scale philanthropic effort is still a relatively new concept to the Mad River Glen community. Although a public goal will not be announced until the campaign is publicly launched, early results have been extremely promising. The pioneering campaign to rebuild Mad River Glen's iconic single chair showed that philanthropy is a viable concept for the Mad River Glen Cooperative. Building on this legacy, donors have been recognizing the challenges we face and are making pledges that on average are 12 times larger than what they contributed to the single chair campaign. Although the campaign is still in the early stages, pledges and donations to date have now exceeded the $1.7 million in contributions that were raised by the very successful single chair campaign.

We know that many of you are eagerly anticipating the public launch of this campaign and we ask for your patience as we work through this essential phase of the project. It’s considered optimal to have already raised two-thirds of the pledges prior to the launch of the public phase. Currently we are projecting a public launch prior to the end of the 2016-17 ski season. With the support of Mad River Glen’s unique community and increased awareness of the scope of our needs, we are confident that we are on track to a very successful campaign that will help secure the future of an unparalleled resource – the trails and trees of General Stark Mountain.

What impact will last winter have on the campaign?

Uncle!We’ve all just come through one of the very worst winters in the 67-year history of Mad River Glen. Winter came late, was generally unconvincing, and left early. Mad River only operated 35 days on the main mountain and an additional 10 days on the Practice Slope, a huge shortfall from the average season of 106 days. Mad Cards and season passes went unused, employees were laid off, and many local businesses suffered, with Mad River Valley lodging occupancy rates down 48% from the previous year. Does this experience make us worried about the viability of the campaign?

A clear answer to this question can be found in the response to the message that the MRG Cooperative staff sent out to the community at the close of the season. The approach was honest and straightforward, even though the news was not what many wanted to hear – that the Cooperative would not be able to give any unusual consideration to season pass and Mad Card holders to compensate them for unused services. The staff expected to field numerous complaints and hostile messages; instead, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Some typical comments:

“For all the challenges that Mother Nature threw at us this winter, there’s still no other place I'd want to spend my winters than MRG!”
“You guys are the standard that all ski hills should strive for. CLASS ACT.”
“A bad day at Mad River beats a good day at most other places.”
“We'll be there next year, no question – powder days or dust on crust, we believe in the Co-op’s mission and will continue to support you.”

MRG StaffIt is our firm belief that the recent winter will emphatically not hurt the campaign. Overwhelmingly, the message has been one of support and the deep value that is placed upon the mountain by the community. There have been many offers to help out. As mentioned in the previous article, the campaign is still in the quiet phase. In the meantime, feel free to contact the campaign to learn more about how you can help. We encourage all of MRG’s community to consider a thoughtful contribution in the form of a multi-year tax-deductible pledge. In the meantime, you are more than welcome to donate to the campaign at

This generous spirit will carry Mad River Glen forward, and it's why we remain extremely confident about the long term success of the Preserve Our Paradise campaign.

The practice slope
Mad River Glen's vaunted snowmaking system starts laying down the infamous "patches."

The role of an endowment for Mad River Glen

The majority of the funds raised by the Preserve Our Paradise campaign will go towards the mountain’s pressing capital needs, as laid out in previous issues with our articles about the four campaign initiatives: Mountain Preservation, Safety and Skier Services, Youth and Family Development, and Community Preservation. These funds will be used over a period of several years for a wide variety of projects, including mountain work, equipment such as the recently purchased new-to-us groomer, replacement of the aging snowmaking system, building a new Safety and Services Center, renovating the Birdcage for youth services, and renovating and expanding the Base Box. All of these projects will help the mountain operate in a more efficient and cost-effective manner and better serve its customers. But what effect will the campaign have on Mad River Glen’s longer-term financial stability?

New groomer.In order to provide a lasting financial impact on the mountain, one of the key goals of the campaign will be to establish a Stark Mountain Paradise Fund. Many of you are familiar with endowments for such institutions as colleges and universities, where a well-funded endowment can go a long way towards ensuring the financial health of the institution by providing a reliable, ongoing source of funds. In the case of Mad River Glen, although the cooperative is not a tax-exempt organization, an endowment is a viable concept through Mad River Glen’s 501(c)(3) nonprofit partner, the Stark Mountain Foundation (SMF). SMF has chosen the highly-regarded Vermont Community Foundation (VCF) to professionally manage the Preservation Endowment. VCF currently manages over $190 million in endowment fund for nearly 700 Vermont nonprofit organizations. The current working goal of the campaign is to fund the endowment with $1 million to meet Mad River’s minimum needs, and ideally, $2.25 million to meet Mad River’s optimum needs.

The income from the endowment will be available to meet future needs that fall within SMF's mission to preserve and protect the mountain environment of General Stark Mountain. If the endowment is fully funded with $2.25 million, it would provide approximately $90,000 annually to meet future needs. Thanks to some generous early donations, we are pleased to announce that the Preservation Fund has already been funded with $230,000, demonstrating a promising start to this very important aspect of the campaign.

Rope drop.
Yes, this picture was actually taken during the winter of 2015-6!

Upcoming MRG events

May 14
Co-op Board of Trustees Meeting, 8 am

June 2
General Stark's Pup opens for expanded summer hours, Thursday-Sunday, 4-9 am, plus Sunday Brunch from 10 am - 2 pm.

June 11
Co-op Board of Trustees Meeting, 8 am

August 6 & 13
Mountain work days. 
Join the crew helping to maintain MRG's forest and epic woods skiing lines. 9 am - 3:30 pm.

More info at Mad River Glen's Event Calendar
Campaign Cabinet

Chair: Annika Holtan    Members at Large: Lars Bruns, Bob Dillon, Jim Elkind, Meg Hourihan, Betsy Jondro, Karen Lloyd, John Nesbett, Pamela Nesbett, Eric Palola, Penny Parson, Greg Scott, Debra Steines, John Stetson, John Tobin, Brooks Ware, Jamey Wimble
Look for our next newsletter in July!

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