Charity Intelligence

Table of Contents

4 STAR RATING

Charity Intelligence was founded to help donors identify which charities most closely align with their giving priorities. They rate organizations based on donor accountability, financial transparency, funding needs and cost-efficiency. We have a 4-star rating. This page is an overview of the information we are graded on.

THE PROBLEM

We have a problem in Canada

  • 13% of Canadians have unmet housing needs and are experiencing chronic homelessness (StatsCan, 2020
  • That’s nearly 5 million people living in poverty or approximately 2 million families
  • Over half a million Canadian households are living in social or affordable housing, with a waitlist of nearly 300,000
  • When people living in poverty do find housing – they often have no beds to sleep on, places to sit at, desks to study at, or pots and pans to cook at  

We can't ignore it any longer

  • United Way estimates 116,000+ GTA individuals and families are struggling to put a roof over their heads
  • Toronto is the poverty capital of Canada, with one in seven residents worried about the finances of having a roof over their head.
  • Approximately 42,000 housing units are still needed to service real demand
  • Our research shows each person moving into an empty apartment requires a minimum of $4000 in available funds to turn empty housing into a furnished established home

We make an impact

  • Furniture Bank helped 3,800 families last year (2019) turn their empty house into a furnished home. 
  • Since we were founded, with your help and generosity, we have given over 110,500 individuals and their families a new start on life with the gift of a furnished home. 

But we can do more

  • We estimate there are 25,000 households that require our programs and service each year – let’s work together to ensure everyone has the dignity and comfort of a furnished home

WHO WE ARE

Since 1998, Furniture Bank has matched unwanted furniture & homewares to individuals and families seeking to create a new home while transitioning out of homelessness or other forms of displacement.  While Furniture Bank clients will have secured affordable housing, these families lack the assets to transform their new housing into a home. A person or a family without the financial means to make their housing into a home are said to live in Furniture Poverty.

Our mission and vision

Our vision

A Canada in which everyone has the stability and dignity of a furnished home.

Our mission

Furniture Bank is a social enterprise powered charity that provides low-income individuals and families with home essentials needed to create conditions of comfort, dignity and stability that come from having a furnished home. Our social enterprise programs create opportunities to reach more families in more communities across Canada.

What is furniture poverty?

Any person or a family without the financial means to make their empty housing into a furnished home is said to living in Furniture Poverty.
Not having a bed to sleep on means a poor night’s sleep, affecting your ability to live, work and study. Not having a sofa to sit on means you can be unwilling to invite friends or support workers into your home. Moving from a hostel into empty housing can lead to people giving up housing and returning to a shelter because at least there they have a bed to sleep on. There are harmful physical, emotional, and financial consequences of Furniture Poverty.

Furniture poverty is a continuum:

  • Furniture Insecurity: A household has the items they need for now. If something essential breaks or needs replacing, they do not have the means to do so. These households are often moving from one crisis to another.
  • Furniture Destitution: Where a household has none or very few of the basic items needed. In a long-term, chronic situation.

Furniture Poverty affects too many low-income people in Canada, many of which are formerly homeless, women and children escaping abusive situations, and newcomer families and refugees.

HOW DO WE MAKE AN IMPACT?

Our core areas of program operation are:

 Furniture collection & delivery: Since 1998, Furniture Bank has matched reusable furniture & homewares to individuals and families seeking to create a new home while transitioning out of homelessness or other forms of displacement.  This activity collects, processes and transfers nearly 100,000 items of furniture annually from the community which is matched and delivered to family’s empty housing units on demand.  

"From my home to a new home in 72 hours - Furniture Bank's cycle time is incredible! Seeing Salesforce in use like this is deeply impactful for my team of volunteers today" Furniture Bank

Chris Morra, Salesforce Volunteer

The Repair Workshop: With a bit of creativity and care, our Workshop team and volunteers rescue, repair and refurbish lightly-damaged items that would otherwise end up in a landfill, and make them available to clients. Operating since 2015, with a bit of creativity and care, our Workshop rescues and repairs tables, chairs, and other items destined for landfill, and makes them available to individuals and families. It’s a triple win for the organization, creating more social employment opportunities, create more quality furnishings for our beneficiary families clients and supports extending Ontario’s shrinking landfills.

I love bringing the furniture back to life and making a family feel warm and cozy with their new gently used furniture pieces. I wanted to work in Finishing Carpentry and I couldn’t have been put in a better place. Giving me this opportunity has opened up my creative self, but also to learn how to run my own business. Furniture Bank

Melanie, Leg Up Repair Workshop Supervisor

Leg Up (Social Employment Program): Our Leg Up social hire program works with employment agencies and partners to provide work experience, life & skills training, and meaningful job opportunities to youth, newcomers to Canada and other individuals facing barriers to employment. Legup participants are embedded in all roles including positions within the warehouse, trucking, repair workshop, family services and social enterprise. 

“You know what you brought me, right? You might think you brought me furniture. But no. No, today you brought me a chance. With nothing in it, this room used to feel like a cell. Now I’m allowed to say I have a home.” Furniture Bank

Robert, Leg Up Participant

All of these services work together in alignment with our Theory of Change, which outlines how we’re driving impact to match our vision and informs the decisions we make around development and growth. More on how we developed our Theory of Change can be found via Innoweave’s case study on Furniture Bank.

OUR THEORY OF CHANGE

Furniture Bank Network

The model is composed of interconnecting stakeholders:

  1. Individuals and families in furniture poverty
  2. The agencies, community organizations, or shelters supporting these individuals. 
  3. The social employment jobs within Furniture Bank to ‘deliver the mission’ 
  4. Canadian households and businesses 
  5. Home furnishings and home goods able to be reused to address furniture poverty. 
  6. Social enterprise services that address the needs of stakeholders above. 
  7. The environment reducing landfill use through reuse and supporting a Circular Economy for business. 
  8. Other furniture poverty reuse organizations connected into the Furniture Bank Network. 

WHO WE HELP?

In 2019, the 60,571 furnishing items we delivered went to beneficiary homes across the Greater Toronto Area. The 3800 families we served received furniture from us as they were transitioning out of homelessness, escaping abusive situations, or were refugees and newcomers to Canada.

SOURCE: Furniture Bank Platform Data. Size of circle equals count of deliveries to FSA location.

Our beneficiaries

DEMOGRAPHICS 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
TOTAL Individuals supported
7,758
10,733
10,035
9,773
9,410
TOTAL Families supported
3,254
3,996
3,927
3,670
3,800
ADULTS
4,906
6,830
6,646
5,692
5,910
CHILDREN
2,853
3,897
3,831
3,942
3,514
WOMEN
4,102
5,526
5,449
5,765
5,629
Donate to Furniture Bank

2019 Beneficiary Mix by Agency Type

OUR OUTPUTS

Outputs 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Total furnishing items delivered
47,535
60,650
61,375
59,906
60,571
Donors providing furnishing items
6,478
7,471
8,133
9,126
9,764
Families served/ helped
3,254
3,996
3,927
3,670
3,800
Agencies making referrals
59
93
88
91
137
In-Kind Value of Furnishings Provided
$4,351,487
$4,459,435
$4,340,985
$5,489,000
$5,226,330
Leg Up social employment*
32 jobs
34 jobs
30 jobs
34 jobs
30 jobs
Items repaired in Workshop
898
1537
1894
1659
1679
Weight of furniture diverted from landfills
1,307 tonnes
1,297 tonnes
1,358 tonnes
1412 tonnes
1347 tonnes
Estimated Carbon Savings
4393 tCO2e
4363 tCO2e
4635 tCO2e
4784 tCO2e
4700 tCO2e

* Our employment figure for the Leg Up program is comprised of those currently employed at Furniture Bank and those who have left Furniture Bank. during the period and role replaced.

Households Donating

Furniture Donated

Families Supported

OUR OUTPUT GOALS

Since we were founded in 1998, our ultimate goal has always been to help create a Canada in which everyone has access to a furnished home. That vision remains the same and acts as the north star for our team and the work we do.

However, with over 50,000 Torontonians experiencing furniture poverty annually and 13% of Canadians having unmet housing needs, our focus also remains close to home.

In the next 12 months, we will:

  • Support other furniture banks in Canada in their mission to end furniture poverty by welcoming two more organizations into the Furniture Bank Network 
  • Increase the number of families served to 4,000
  • Increase social job opportunities to 35

Our long-term aim is to:

  • Create increased capacity to double the number of families served to 7,800 by 2023
  • Expand the Repair Workshop and increase the number of items repaired in the Workshop to 2,000 annually by 2023

THE DIFFERENCE WE MAKE

Furniture poverty has a far-reaching impact on individuals and families both physically and emotionally. By providing those in need with furniture, we help them transform houses into homes, and facilitate an environment filled with stability, dignity and belonging. 

When agency caseworkers were asked about the impact of Furniture Bank in general, the top social impacts related to Furniture Bank beneficiary families (clients) were:

  • Restoring clients’ hope in the future (83%)
  • Improving clients’ self-esteem (78%)
  • Improving clients’ self-confidence (72%)
  • Creating family stability (72%)

Read more about the difference we make in our Learning Centre

Most of our families do not have access to furniture due to circumstances beyond their control and if it wasn’t for Furniture Bank they would not be able to resettle back into the community. This is a critical service for the most vulnerable in our society creating conditions for the good mental and physical health of our families. This week Furniture Bank provided and a sofa and sleep sets for a single mum and her son who previously had been sitting on garden chairs, and using clothing to nest on the floor Furniture Bank

Case Worker Focus Group

With a furnished home my life has stability now. My self-confidence has grown and this has had a great impact in my professional and personal growth. Furniture Bank

Lucinda, Program Beneficiary

Sarah's story

sarah

"I woke up this morning as if I was in a dream. I still can’t believe this is my home and I get to live here – that my babies have an actual bed to sleep in. I don’t have to move anymore; I am home. God Bless you, for all that you do." Furniture Bank

Sarah, Furniture Bank Beneficiary

Sarah was a young woman working for the government in her country of origin. Political unrest and the nature of her job made her the target of death threats. At the same time, Sarah was pregnant with twins and the pregnancy became high-risk.

Fearful for her safety – and the health of her unborn babies – she fled, leaving everything behind.

Sarah went to Atlanta, where she gave birth to her boys who needed treatment after delivery. Alone in a new country with newborns, Sarah’s life was complex, isolating and frightening. From Atlanta, Sarah moved to Montreal, then Toronto, where she found refuge at a shelter.

Homeless and jobless, Sarah juggled motherhood, immigration and refugee claim appointments, and social work meetings. While grateful for the tremendous support she received from Christie Refugee Centre, living at the shelter with two young, spirited boys soon proved challenging.

Fortunately, Sarah was able to secure affordable housing. However, like so many of our neighbours, she could not afford to furnish her home. She and her boys slept on blankets on the floor in an empty apartment.

Thanks to the generosity of countless Furniture Bank donors and volunteers, Sarah is well on her way to rebuilding her new life in Canada.

OUR OUTCOMES

OUTCOMES 2017 2018 2019
# of beneficiary families who report an improved quality of life
3,670
3,927
3,800
# of beneficiary individuals who report that they feel more included in society
7,340
7,854
7,600
# of donors who felt satisfied and good about having donated furniture to families in need
7,779
6664
7,811
# of participants who secured employment within or outside Furniture Bank after six months of completing the program
26
26
26
# of volunteers who report that they feel like they are contributing to the community
51
49
54
Estimated carbon savings
4635 tCO2e
4784 tCO2e
4700 tCO2e

* Data accurate as of December 31, 2019

 These outcome figures have been calculated using a blended approach of (SROI) Social Return on Investment measures and a qualitative review of beneficiary and social employment data and reporting from Furniture Bank tracking systems. See Social Value Report 2019 for more detailed methodology. 

Our Social Return on Investment (SROI)

Social Return On Investment (SROI) is a standardized measurement used by charities to measure how much change is being created. SROI measurement tracks relevant social, environmental, and economic outcomes, and equates a monetary value to that impact.

Furniture Bank is recognized as a high-impact charity with a 2019 SROI of $12.11:1 – for every $1 donated/invested into Furniture Bank, our charity creates $12.11 worth of benefits back to society.

This is a key metric for our team at Furniture Bank to ensure we are meeting the needs of our clients and working towards ending furniture poverty. Our SROI figure is comprised of important measurables such as the number of families we’ve helped, how those families have benefited from having a stable home environment, the impact of our Leg Up program and the environmental benefits as a direct result of our work.

A High-Impact Charity Program
The Furniture Bank’s approach to measure impact and to understand the value of impact from the perspective of stakeholders (i.e. clients seeking to furnish their homes) is on the path to be ‘best in class’ because the intention is to use results to improve service delivery and client experience – i.e. to maximize impact. This is exactly the reason why understanding the value of impact can enable greater organizational success.

Aligned with Canadian standards

Furniture Bank Social Impact Report 2019

2019 Social Value Report

Furniture Bank hired SiMPACT to do a social audit on its program operations in 2017 and follow up in 2019. All outcomes evaluated by SiMPACT were based on data collected through stakeholders short, medium and long term impacts (12 months to three years).  

DOWNLOAD HERE

Our outcome goals

Looking ahead to the next 12 months, through our continued growth and improved efficiencies, Furniture Bank will:

  • Increase the number of clients who report an improved quality of life to 4,000
  • Increase the number of clients who report that they feel more included in society by 5%

In the long term, our aim is:

  • 90% of participants in the Leg Up program secure employment within or outside Furniture Bank after six months of completing the program by 2023
  • Achieve an estimated carbon saving to the environment of 5,000 tCO2e by 2023
  • 100% of clients report enjoying an improved quality of life by 2023?

HOW WE'RE FUNDED?

Furniture Bank is a social enterprise powered charity, funded by a mix of financial gifts and donations, corporate and civic partnerships and our own activities. The full breakdown of 2019 income and expenditures is outlined in the charts below:

Audited financials

Previous Years

Other reporting

Our social enterprise service reviews

facebook logoFURNITURE BANKFURNITURE BANK
4.7 Stars - Based on 126 User Reviews of Furniture Bank
google logoFurniture BankFurniture Bank
4.3 Stars - Based on 351 User Reviews of Furniture Bank

Revenues and Expense Trends

Funding Sources

Funding Source 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Financial Gifts
391,688
377,106
459,358
865,712
370,076
Events
129,379
125,387
244,844
310,979
15,000
Social Enterprises (All)
1,594,484
1,812,054
1,791,558
1,858,786
1,831,913
City of Toronto
432,768
493,890
659,469
844,274
1,054,968
Employment Subsidies
137,805
87,938
42,764
41,072
67,093
Other / Deferred Income
98,193
155,696
195,264
202,926
154,058

Key Ratios & Indicators

Indicator 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Liquidity
1.70
1.69
1.77
1.89
2.71
Resiliency
0.98
0.72
0.70
0.68
0.61
Sustainability
0.29
0.38
0.06
0.10
0.11
Growth
4.1%
5.3%
0.9%
1.5%
2.4%
Revenue Diversity
58.35%
60.65%
55.50%
47.79%
55.07%

The key indicators of the financial health of Furniture Bank are based on Common Approach to Impact Measurement recommendations. The indicators included in the Common Approach were developed by Dr. Elizabeth Searing and Dr. Nathan Grasse and adapted from those used by Bowman (2011).

Indicator 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Administrative costs as % of revenues
4.40%
4.40%
6.60%
5.00%
6.00%
Fundraising costs as % of donations
9.70%
15.70%
18.90%
20.10%
5.80%
Total Overhead as a % of donations
14.10%
20.10%
25.50%
25.00%
11.80%
Program cost coverage (%)
9.20%
8.80%
12.70%
7.70%
18.50%

Other key indicators of impact of Furniture Bank are based on Charity Intelligence’s methodology.

Program Cost Coverage is a financial ratio tool for assessing a charity’s need for funding.  It compares funding reserves relative to program costs.  The program cost coverage ratio is calculated by dividing the year-end funding reserves by the program costs for the most recent year. Higher is better. 

Fundraising costs are presented as a percent of donations plus special events revenue. The ideal is for charities to aim for fundraising costs below 15%. 

Administrative cost ratio is calculated by taking the charity’s total administration costs divided by its total revenues less investment income. Charities require a basic level of administrative costs to operate effectively.  Ideally charities should target administrative cost ratios between 2% and 12.5% .

OUR CONTINUED EVOLUTION

In 2014, with a worsening housing crisis, our 2015 to 2017 Strategic Plan aimed to expand social value to support 10,000 families coming from a crisis with a furnished home. We exceeded that three-year goal, supporting 11,117 families – 11% above target and 39% higher than the previous three years.

How did we do it?

  • Extended social enterprise
  • Pilots with business
  • Investing in technology for sustainable impact

As 2018 approached, our next 3-year strategic plan (2018 to 2020) focused on four central pillars of activities:

  • Deepening our Financial Sustainability
  • Broadening our Organizational Capacity
  • Building Awareness of our Program Services
  • Beginning Social Replication

This plan significantly expanded our mission and vision to encompass all of Canada – not just the City of Toronto.  The goal was to create the conditions to support 15,000 families over those years, with 20% of families supported beyond our Toronto location. But as 2018 closed, we saw evidence that the initial investments were having a negative impact on the social value we were able to create, with Social Return On Investment (SROI) dropping to 10.12:1.

With that in mind, we began 2019 with clear priorities for the year and proceeded to build a strong foundation that would still enable us to reach our strategic goals. We finished 2019 with a social value of 12:1, reversing the downward SROI trend. Other activity output hit a record level, validating the program and partnership changes we prioritized that year.

Working in partnership with companies like Furniture Link, we had many successful commercial pilots supporting Circular Economy trends. The highlight of these 2019 pilots was testing our social replication goals in another community. Leveraging social enterprise, corporate partnerships, and cloud-based support services, we were able to create the conditions to support the launch of a new furniture bank program attached to an existing charity based in Barrie, Ontario. This pilot provided proof that with lean resources, partnerships and our investments in a ‘cloud-powered charity’, a new national collaboration framework – the Furniture Bank Network – could be possible in 2020.

Another key learning from the past 18 months has been the significant potential benefit of community-based tracking. Our goal is a national SROI framework that standardizes the social, economic, and environmental impact of the national network of furniture banks (Furniture Bank Network (FBN)). Leveraging expertise from experts and stakeholders alike, Furniture Bank is taking the step of transferring our framework onto SAMETRICA, which will create a centralized real-time analysis of our impact and those members joining on this national mission to end furniture poverty. This will provide actionable data to measure and manage our outcomes and support better decision making in future periods.

More on how we’ve adapted is detailed in our annual reports.

 

OUR ANNUAL DONOR REPORTS

2019

The 2019 edition won’t be produced as managements priority remains responding to the large increase in demand from COVID-19. We opted to safe scare resources and push material to this public website following best practices recommended by Charity Intelligence.  

We hope this expanded Impact Page provides a detailed overview of the social and environmental donors like you create through Furniture Bank programs. 

We’ve included the last 3 years of Impact Reports we would normally provide to prospective donors to expand on our work year to year if you are interested in more historical information.  

Regards 

2018

2017

2016