Working for a Good Cause More Companies Tap Nonprofit Groups for Their Work Force Needs

Article excerpt

Nonprofit organizations of all types are constantly searching for funds, while operations of all types are constantly searching for labor. So the two can be a perfect match.

Take Frontier City. The Oklahoma City amusement park makes special efforts to attract and retain workers, including frequent staff parties and prize contests. Nonetheless, employment can be a challenge, especially since the park experiences huge crowd fluctuations based on the season and the day of the week.

In 1995, the park was approached by a local church group that offered to send out a group of volunteers that would work at the park. In return, a check would be made out not to the individuals, but to their church. Frontier City's management tested out the idea, found it to be a success, and dramatically expanded its use.

"This is an excellent fund-raiser because, you know, you see a lot of organizations out there washing cars and they can only make so much, but this is guaranteed," pointed out Pete Fingerhut, director of marketing for both Frontier City and its sister park, White Water. Both are owned by Premier Parks, the Oklahoma City operator of the Six Flags theme parks.

Just as an example, one fraternity group brought a team of 34 workers to the park to work a seven-hour shift of simple jobs like food service, catering or running the games a few weeks ago, and received a check for $1,400, noted Monika Mullins, the human resource manager for the parks, who heads up the "Fun"raiser booster program.

Frontier City uses between 40 to 50 groups in a year, with each group working three days in the year. A typical group has between 10 and 30 volunteers. On a busy

day, up to 20 percent of workers at the park may be volunteers.

The park pays volunteers $6 an hour with no income tax withholdings, which is a little higher than the hourly wage for regular employees. But then again, these volunteer workers don't get paid benefits and aren't entitled to workers compensation.

Fingerhut noted the volunteers make top-notch workers. He says most are raising funds for churches, athletic groups or charities, and are typically "good quality" individuals with an all-American image.

"They don't mind working," he observed. "A lot of times when you've got someone working for 30 days, it becomes very monotonous. You know, it's the same thing every day. But to a volunteer who will only be here three days, they're fresh."

The only thing the volunteers do not do is run the rides, explained Fingerhut. To ensure safety, ride operators must receive special training. The company has not used the volunteers very much yet at White Water since that park's staffing needs are much lower. …