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Tip of the Quarter February 2017

Non Profit Organizations
(not just for concessions anymore)

By: Roy Lubovsky, Indiana University

As most of you already know, using nonprofit organizations to run your concession stands is a no brainer. Where else can you mobilize hundreds of volunteers to show up on time, open up and operate concession stands for your hungry fans? I will venture a guess that most of you would not be able to hire enough employees to run concessions at your larger events, and if you did how many of these employees call in sick?

Using NPO for Concessions

Back in 2006 came upon an idea to hire one of our groups to set up; stock and clean our condiment stands at football games. We all know that condiments tend to be a low priority for groups during busy events, personally I hate it when a fan points out that you are out of (pick one); straws; napkins; onions; mustard; ketchup………………….. Simply by hiring a group to do nothing but clean/stock condiments quickly solved this issue. The success of this program got me thinking where else could I use these on-call workers/volunteers. The next evolution came with the idea to use them in back of house catering, after all they have food service experience, and they show up on time with the proper number of workers and are eager to make additional revenue for their groups.

Using NPO for Catering

Building on the success we had in back of house catering we started using some of our groups to serve our catering guests at events. First we started with buffets and gradually started to use these workers on plated meals actually serving guests their meals. Our catering operations consist of three full time employees and dozens of part time employees. Because we don’t consistently need large numbers of catering staff, using our NPO’s fill our need for temporary staff while generating extra income for our groups. During the past two years we now use volunteers from our groups to staff our training table program for our student athletes. At any given time half of our front of house staff are comprised of volunteers from our NPO’s.

Different roles we use our NPO’s

  • Cleaning and stocking our condiment stations
  • Operating two of our three cook rooms at football
  • Runners at all three of our cook rooms at football
  • Making and distributing hot chocolate at football
  • Back of the house for catering (plating meals, desserts, salads, washing dishes, prep cooks)
  • Front of house catering (buffet and plated meals)
  • Catering staff for our suites and corporate tents
  • Front of house staff for training table operations
  • Assisting smaller events when we need an extra “worker” – volleyball, track, wrestling

Advantages of using NPO’s in other areas

  • Reliable source of large number of workers on short notice
  • Semi trained staff (working concessions teaches them food safety, sanitation and customer service)
  • No long term commitment on our part or on the groups part
  • We pay a straight stipend to our groups. We do not have to pay tax or benefits, workers comp insurance etc.
  • Helps keep good groups by providing them additional source of income
  • Helps train group volunteers to the point that we hire some of the better volunteer as our employees

By thinking outside the box we have been able to staff other areas of our dining operations with volunteers instead of hiring employees allowing us to provide the best possible service to our guests. We will continue to look for more ways to partner with our NPO’s to form a win-win partnership while giving back to our community. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me direct at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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