Funding and income

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Funding and income

In this section we highlight how you can plan for any costs you might incur as well as some of the ways you might raise money to cover these.

You can learn best by hearing from other fridges about how they’ve gathered funds. Many consider options like crowdfunding, applying for local grants, getting sponsorship from businesses, organising community events or asking for contributions from people in their local area.

What costs should we account for?

You don’t need to have everything you need right from the start. It’s often better to begin with the essentials and expand gradually as your fridge develops. This stops you from buying things you might not need and allows you to adjust to the changing needs of your community. Begin by thinking about:

The physical items in your fridge area:
From fridges to shelves it helps to have an idea of what you want and the costs of these.

Running costs:
Depending on your setup you may need to cover running costs like heating and electricity.

People's time:
Think about how much time people will spend running the fridge. This includes things like looking after volunteers and reaching out to the community, plus the shift patterns for when the fridge is open. Will you be running your fridge with volunteers or paid staff?

Extra costs for outdoor fridges:
If your fridge is outside, you might need to pay for things like a shelter to keep it safe and secure from bad weather, and you’ll need to make sure its connected to power.

Travel expenses:
You’ll need to cover the costs of your team picking up any surplus food. This can quickly add up so have a plan in place which ensures this is covered.

Other Items:
Don't forget to budget for things like food safety training, insurance, printing materials and signs, scales for weighing food, and tables for sharing food.

One you have these its time to create a budget – you can use online software like Microsoft Excel, Google sheets or the old fashioned way using pen and paper. It doesn’t matter which you choose, just aim to capture all expenses and add up to 10% contingency for any unplanned expenses.

Ok, but how much does a fridge typically cost?

This is a hard one to answer as it varies so much from fridge to fridge. Factors such as location, size, and other logistical elements can influence the overall cost dramatically. Typically, you might be looking at anywhere between £500 to £5,000, though in some cases it can be much higher. Use your budget to help you understand each cost and then see if there are areas you might be able to cut down on these with support from your local community/business partners.

Unlocking sources of income

To keep your community fridge running, you need money from different places. This money can come from two main areas: grants and other earnings.

  1. Grant money: Local councils, trusts, or charity groups sometimes give out money for projects that help the community. You can use online tools to see what money is out there for you to apply for.
  2. Support from businesses: Ask local shops and companies if they can help. They might like being seen helping out in the community. This way, you get funds and they get to show they care about local people.

Money you can earn:

  1. Selling things or services: Some groups make extra money by doing other things like running cafes, lunch groups, or selling groceries.
  2. Raising money: This can be fun events like local breakfasts or big community parties. You can also ask for money online on websites like "GoFundMe" if you have a special goal in mind.

    Important note on raising money for your fridge: When you're trying to get money for your fridge, make sure you're doing it the right way. There might be rules you need to follow. For advice on this, talk to your local community group or check the NAVCA Member Directory.

    Harnessing these channels, with due diligence and community engagement, will not only stabilize your community fridge initiative financially but also root it deeper into the fabric of the community it serves.
For advice and tips on funding and income
check out the step-by-step guides from NCVO


Yes, there are recurring costs such as electricity, maintenance, and other operational expenses. It's essential to account for these in your fundraising efforts, though this will vary from location to location.

Absolutely. You can apply for as many grants as you find relevant to your project. However, always ensure you meet the grant's criteria before applying, and have a plan in place to consider how much you need for your whole project.

Local businesses can gain positive publicity, increase their community involvement, and align with a noble cause. It's a win-win for both the business and the community.

Regular updates, financial transparency, and showing the impact of their contributions can keep donors engaged and trusting in your cause.

It's a good practice to separate the project's finances from personal or other organisational funds. This aids in transparency and easier financial tracking.

Want to dig deeper? 

Intro to community fridge guide