Managing volunteers 

Someone washing a sieve at a community fridge kitchen.
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Managing volunteers

Behind every thriving community fridge is a dedicated team of volunteers. Ensuring the seamless operation and success of a fridge isn't a one-person task. This section will guide you on assembling, managing, and supporting your fridge team.

1. Finding your team:

First you’ll need people who want to join your fridge. While it can be difficult to know how many people you’ll need, it's best to start small and expand as you go. Think about the skills you might need, like people who can organise events or who are good with numbers and find a way to reach them. This could be by:

  • Distributing flyers in community hotspots.
  • Social media announcements or notice boards.
  • Joining and advertising at local community meetings or gatherings.

2. Training & getting started

Once you’ve found your team, you’ll need to get them ready. This could be by showing them how the fridge works, teaching them about the way you’re managing food safety, and explaining their roles. Make sure everyone knows what they need to do and who they can ask if they have questions. Don’t forget, anyone helping at the fridge needs to have successfully completed training in food safety.

3. Making a schedule

With your team ready, you’ll need to make a schedule or rota. This is a plan of who will do what and when. You can keep it interesting and varied by spreading the work evenly, just aim to make sure no one gets too tired or too busy.

4. Keeping your team happy

Staff and volunteers are the heart of any community fridge, make sure they feel both valued and happy. This could be by saying thank you, giving them a chance to learn new skills, or just making sure they’re having fun. By taking care of them, you can make sure your fridge stays successful for a long time.

Two people taking food out of a community fridge and placing in a hamper.
Someone taking an item of food out of a community fridge

Volunteer considerations

Equality and diversity: Each and every person should be able to make a difference through volunteering. Whatever their background, community fridge group's should treat volunteers with equity and fairness. You should also help them understand how equity, diversity and inclusion relates to their role. Find out more on NCVO's helpful site: here

Data protection: If you collect personal information about your volunteers (such as names, addresses, phone numbers, etc.), you'll need to comply with data protection laws. This means you need to inform volunteers about what data you're collecting and why, and store it securely.

Insurance: It's good practice to have insurance coverage for your volunteers. This can protect both the organisation and the volunteers in the event of an accident or injury.

Volunteer agreements: While not a legal requirement, many organisations use volunteer agreements to clearly lay out the expectations and responsibilities of both parties. This can include time commitment, role description, and other important details.

Hiring a co-ordinator

A question many groups ask is whether you need to hire a coordinator for your community fridge. In short, no you don’t but, having a paid co-ordinator can really help make your fridge a success. A dedicated paid role ensures someone has guaranteed time to help everything run smoothly. They can take care of important tasks like coordinating food collections, managing volunteers, promoting the fridge, and keeping track of the fridge’s impact. This can also help as the project grows, having a dedicated person to help manage the day-to-day operations while the team focuses on planning the fridge’s growth.

To find out more information about managing volunteers:

Having a paid person, who can set direction and orchestrate the entire operation has really helped. The impact of that person just holding everything together is just really important. Trying to find that next lot of funding, supporting the team of volunteers and being the go-to person for your partners.

Vee Thompson, Stonehouse Community Fridge


There’s no exact number as it varies depending on the fridge's size, operational hours, and tasks involved. A small fridge may require 2-3 volunteers while a larger operation could benefit from a team of 10 or more.

Yes, anyone can volunteer. However, certain roles, especially those involving food handling, will require food safety certification. It's also a good idea to look for volunteers with particular skills or expertise if there's a specific need or gap within your team.

Open communication is key. Address concerns promptly, facilitate mediating conversations, and ensure a positive environment for all. Use the volunteer guidance template we’ve provided to help with this.

For practical and step by step guidance to help you manage volunteers and the processes involved, check out the guidance provided by NCVO.

Ready to build your team?

Next you’ll need to think about how to communicate to the world to start recruiting.