US Cellular Center invites volunteer groups to earn portion of food and beverage sales

U.S. Cellular Center
HEAR YE, HEAR YE: A city of Asheville public survey is giving residents the chance to weigh in about renovations to the U.S. Cellular Center's Thomas Wolfe Auditorium. Photo by Kat McReynolds

In an effort to fulfill its own staffing needs and help local organizations needing financial support, the US Cellular Center is accepting applications for its volunteer group fundraising program through Friday, Aug. 28. The program, which has been around for more than 15 years, according to general manager Chris Corl, allows nonprofit groups to earn 10 percent of gross food and non-alcoholic beverage sales and 5 percent of gross alcoholic beverage sales by staffing the venue’s concession stands during large events.

“We’re trying to utilize this open call method to get the word out to qualified groups that may not know about the program,” Corl says, explaining that the recruitment process has been limited to word of mouth in past years. Nonprofit applicants are selected based on the groups’ past experience working at events (particularly those involving alcohol service), any relevant ties to USCC events, reference checks and interviews.

Although the duration of shifts varies based on the complexity of the event, Corl says six hours is the average. A group of eight to 14 volunteers, he explains, could expect to earn an average of $280 per shift, based on data collected over the past five years. Most groups staff about 10 events, making the average group’s annual earnings total $2,800.

These figures add up to an average payoff of $3.33 to $5.83 per hour, per volunteer (assuming a six-hour shift), before patron donations are added to the sum.

“Groups working in concession stand locations or at portable bars may place donation jars on the counter tops,” a US Cellular Center release explains. “The jars must be plastic and must clearly state that all donated funds are to be given directly to the group.” Data is not available on these additional earnings, as the volunteers are not on company payroll. Corl, however, says his team will begin tracking that information this season.

According to USCC’s release, there is a learning curve involved with serving food and drinks. Groups tend to gain efficiencies over time, which leads to higher commissions. Longer shifts also work to volunteers’ benefit at times, Corl explains, as those events are typically on a larger scale.

Food and beverage manager Catie Cuellar adds that many groups have enjoyed non-monetary benefits associated with their participation in the program.

“It creates a great opportunity for the groups to get their messages out to demographics that they might not reach in their usual settings,” she says. “We encourage our volunteer groups to wear shirts and caps promoting their causes and, when possible, we try to match groups to events where there may be some linear similarities.”

Click here for a program overview and application. Interested parties can submit questions or completed applications (due by Friday, Aug. 28) to Cuellar at or at the box office.

Here is the full release from the US Cellular Center:

The U.S. Cellular Center is currently accepting applications from qualified volunteer groups to assist in the concessions operations when needed at the U.S. Cellular Center.

Recruitment process: Applications must be submitted via email to Catie Cuellar, Food & Beverage Manager at or dropped off at the U.S. Cellular Center box office between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday August 28. Applications can be found at Questions may be submitted to Catie Cuellar via email by 5 p.m. August 14. Answers to all questions will be compiled and sent to all interested groups by 5 p.m. August 19.

Concessions volunteer program goals: Primary goal — Supplement paid part-time and temporary/seasonal staffing for large events held at the facility. Due to the infrequency of events requiring large numbers of staff, the center struggles to retain enough staff on payroll to fulfill all needs for a large arena concert or special event. In the case of these large events, the center offers the opportunity for volunteer groups to work in concession stands as a fundraising opportunity. Secondary goal — Provide local volunteer groups with the opportunity to raise funds for their organizations.

Potential group earnings: Volunteer groups working with the U.S. Cellular Center will earn percentages of sales on a commission basis while volunteering with the facility. Groups will earn 10% of gross food and non-alcoholic beverage sales and 5% of gross alcoholic beverage sales. In 2014, staff researched statistics of the program’s previous 5 years. Groups can expect annually, on average, that a given group will be requested to work approximately 10 event shifts, earning approximately $700 per event with average annual earnings of around $2,800. *Note the quantity of available events and total earnings cannot be guaranteed as the program is reliant on the total number of booked events and total need for volunteer staff to work said events. If a given event’s sales do not dictate a commission amount of greater than $250, the U.S. Cellular Center will provide a minimum commission of $250 for said event.

As a group becomes more experienced it can be expected that earnings will increase as experience typically breeds efficiency which, in turn, breeds increased sales volume and therefore increases commission amounts.

The above earnings averages do not include cash donations. Groups working in concession stand locations or at portable bars may place donation jars on the counter tops. This jars must be plastic and must clearly state that all donated funds are to be given directly to the group.

Scheduling expectations: Groups can expect, on average, to be requested to work 10 event shifts annually, dependent on event schedule. Total need for staffing levels in the facility is dictated by total ticket sales or expected sales leading into a given event. There will be times that ticket sales in the last week prior to an event will require the addition of a volunteer group. When this occurs groups may be asked to work an event with less than 5 days notice. U.S. Cellular Center Food & Beverage staff commits to request volunteer groups for events with as much advance notice as possible, but short lead times prior to events may occur. Upon signing up for the program, a volunteer group agrees to be available to work at least one shift for each of the below events. *Note dependent on ticket sales the group may be needed for more than one shift for each event or potentially zero shifts.

Scheduling will be handled by the facility’s Food & Beverage Manager or designee and will be handled over email and phone. There is no guarantee of a minimum number of shifts or earnings that a given group will receive annually.

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For more information about upcoming events at the US Cellular Center Asheville please visit

About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

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