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 with

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 $8,000 in available funds to turn empty housing into a furnished established home

We make an impact

  • Since 2019, Furniture Bank has helped over 8,200 families turn their empty house into a furnished home. 
  • Since we were founded, with your help and generosity, we have given over 121,869 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 is Furniture Bank?

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

Our mission is to break the cycle of furniture poverty. Furniture Bank, a social enterprise-powered charity, transfers unwanted furniture and household goods donated by the community to people who are coming out of crisis. Our programs work in partnership with over 150 community agencies and shelters to assist people who are economically vulnerable including ​​women and children leaving shelters, the formerly homeless, Indigenous, those struggling with mental health, LGBTQ+, BIPOC, newcomers and refugees who require furniture and household goods for their homes, a service that enhances both psychological and financial stability.

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 Workshop:

Our Indigenous-led Repair and Refurbishment Workshop trains participants in furniture repair, upholstery and woodworking.  The mandate of Furniture Bank’s Workshop is to eliminate barriers in the attainment of meaningful work for equity-deserving people by providing trade training, creating long-term social employment opportunities, and providing sustainable careers in the refurbishing and reupholstering field. This in turn results in more quality furnishings for the beneficiary clients. 

Since its inception in 2015, we have provided over 20 participants with opportunities to learn employable skills, and repaired and salvaged 9,000 items, ensuring furniture stays out of our 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, Workshop employee

Our social employment programs: 

Our Leg Up social hire program works with employment agencies and partners to provide work experience, life and skills training, and meaningful job opportunities to youth, newcomers to Canada and other individuals facing barriers to employment. Leg Up employees are embedded in all roles including positions within the warehouse, trucking, The Workshop, accounting, administration, family services and social enterprise. We train 35-40 participants annually, fostering personal and professional growth through job skills, emotional intelligence training, and financial literacy, providing skills and knowledge to achieve greater financial independence, and retain secure employment. Over the last decade have provided meaningful employment and skills development for over 250 employees.

Our trucking social enterprise provides professional removal and transportation of furniture donations, redistributing 70,000 furniture items and serving over 3,600 families annually. All items selected by our clients are provided to them free of charge. Since our inception in 1998, we have given over 121,859 individuals and their families a new start on life through fully furnishing their homes. 

I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity that Furniture Bank has given me by investing in my work ethic rather than my history, and providing me with the tools to develop career skills. It has been very rewarding being able to experience and contribute to the front line of client interaction, delivering to people in need and picking up donations from people who want to help. Being able to do that while being a part of an organization that is learning and growing has been nothing short of inspiring!Furniture Bank

Tom, Leg Up employee

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

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. 

Where your donations go

We collect 70,000 furniture items annually across the Greater Toronto Area. The 3,600 families we serve each year who receive furniture and home goods from us are transitioning out of homelessness, escaping abusive situations, and/or have recently arrived in Canada. We work with over 200 agencies to assist people who are economically vulnerable including ​​women and children leaving shelters, the formerly homeless, Indigenous, those struggling with mental health, LGBTQ+, BIPOC, newcomers and refugees.

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

Beneficiaries supported

DEMOGRAPHICS 2018 2019 2020 2021
TOTAL Individuals supported
9,773
9,410
5,484
4,216
TOTAL Families supported
3,670
3,800
2,341
2,143
ADULTS
5,692
5,910
3,434
2,894
CHILDREN
3,942
3,514
2,046
1,322
WOMEN
5,765
5,629
2,892
2,224

2020-2022 “The Pandemic Years” saw many community agencies that we traditionally supported close operations or move all their services to virtual. For those agencies that continued to make referrals, we continued to support them. However there is nothing virtual about furnishing a home – so the health and safety protocols put in place to protect volunteers, staff, donors and client beneficiaries put daily limits on our operations that reduced the capacity to support families during this time. Entering 2023 we have returned to our 2019 capacity levels. 

OUR OUTPUTS

Outputs 2018 2019 2020 2021
Total furnishing items delivered
59,906
60,571
41,790
41,659
Donors providing furnishing items
9,126
9,764
4,536
4,386
Families served/ helped
3,670
3,800
2,342
2,143
Agencies making referrals
91
137
117
138
In-Kind Value of Furnishings Provided
$5,489,000
$5,226,330
$3,284,264
$3,422,773
Leg Up social employment*
34 jobs
30 jobs
36 jobs
39 jobs
Items repaired in Workshop
1659
1679
4427**
3375**
Weight of furniture diverted from landfills
1412 tonnes
1347 tonnes
729 tonnes
744 tonnes
Estimated Carbon Savings
4784 tCO2e
4700 tCO2e
2000 tCO2e
2041 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.

** Includes assembled furniture from an IKEA donation. 

OUR 2022 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 is aimed at helping both locally and across Canada.

In the next 12 months, we will:

  • Expand our Support Services by welcoming 2 new organizations onto our Furniture Bank platform.  
  • Increase the number of families served to 3500 a return to 2019 levels 
  • Increase social job opportunities to 35 in our employment social enterprises (Furniture Removal and Refurbishment Workshop)

Our next 5 years goals include:

  • Create the capacity within our existing facility to support 5000 families as we explore 7-day-a-week operations.
  • Expand the Repair Workshop and increase the number of items repaired in the Workshop to 2,000 annually including bedframe making capabilities.  
  • Add an additional 5 charity organizations onto our cloud-based impact platform and support an additional 2000 families through this service. 
  • Begin assessing how social finance can support purchasing a larger facility and permanent home for Furniture Bank. This includes raising $2-3 million for the purchase.  

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

Our Social Return on Investment (SROI)

* Data accurate as of December 31, 2019

Note to Reader: With the 2020-2022 period, we have seen collection challenges for this information and gathering resources (skills & funds) for 2023 to revisit and update this SROI model to better integrate social, economic and environmental outcomes based on feedback and observations from those our charity impacts. 

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

OUTCOMES 2018 2019 2020
# 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
4700 tCO2e
4700 tCO2e
4700 tCO2e

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
Furniture Bank Social Impact Report 2019

Our outcome goals

Looking ahead to the next 12 months Furniture Bank intends to:

  • 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%
  • Ensure 85% of participants in the Leg Up program secure employment within or outside Furniture Bank after six months of completing the program 
  • Achieve an estimated carbon saving to the environment of 5,000 tCO2e by 2023
  • 100% of clients report enjoying an improved quality of life through the provision of furnished homes (from empty housing).

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

Reviews

2021

Revenue Sources

Source: 2021 Audited Statements, in 000’s of Cdn Dollars

Cost Areas

Source: 2021 Audited Statements, in 000’s of Cdn Dollars

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4.7 Stars - Based on 120 User Reviews of Furniture Bank
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4.5 Stars - Based on 558 User Reviews of Furniture Bank

OUR CONTINUED EVOLUTION

The 2018-2020 strategic plan focused on deepening financial stability, broadening organizational capacity, building awareness of our program services, and beginning social replication.

This plan significantly expanded our mission and vision to encompass all of Canada – not just expanding support for the City of Toronto and surrounding regions. 

Throughout 2018 and 2019, we focused on building a strong foundation, enabling us to have record-level activity output because of the program and partnerships we developed. We piloted commercial projects centred around the circular economy (thanks to Furniture Link), aided in launching a new furniture bank in Barrie, Ontario, and built a social return on investment framework to highlight Furniture Bank’s impact on society, the economy, and the environment.  

Recognized as a Clean 50 Top Project Winner and a fundamental piece to Where the Next Diverted Tonne Comes From, Furniture Bank’s impact on the environment played a prominent role in highlighting the added value of using our furniture removal services. These media mentions were key components of building awareness of our goals, purpose, and mission. 

2022 and COVID-19

The final year of our previous strategic plan was met with a global pandemic. Like many charities, Furniture Bank paused operations when the safety of our employees and clients were still unknown obstacles we needed to overcome. Unlike many charities that struggled through COVID-19 closures, Furniture Bank was back operating within a few days of recommended closures, pivoting systems and programs to a distanced furniture bank. By April 6th, 2020, Furniture Bank was back, safely helping families in times of distress turn their house into a home.  

A key reason Furniture Bank reacted as quickly as we did was because of the strategies developed during the 2018-2020 strategic plan, specifically leveraging technology and best practices to improve operational capacity and efficiency.  

The strategic frameworks combined with our investment in these technologies progressed our work on deepening our financial stability, broadening our organizational capacity, and improving the foundations of social replication. 

At the end of our previous strategic plan, a few things became clear:

  • Impact is paramount and comes in many forms
  • Agility is vital for long term sustainability

The City of Toronto’s Rapid Homing Initiative sparked a major pivot towards a needs-based model to maximize the impact for each household and will be a primary goal for Furniture Bank moving forward. 

However, a full homing solution presents a supply challenge, which we plan on tackling through the increased capacity of our workshop to build bed frames. This addresses a hard-to-supply item and generates more impact through our Leg Up Program. Additionally, we will continue piloting corporate projects to find long-lasting solutions to increase the supply of other hard to get items.

The Redwood Furniture Bank pilot offered substantial learning on how we can impact communities outside of Toronto, making the expansion of the Furniture Bank Support Service a primary focus moving into the next strategic plan.

The pandemic forced us into agility and focused our strategic goals on increasing our impact, whether through reach or quality. As our plans shift, we’ll keep this page up to date to reflect our strategies on increasing Furniture Bank’s impact – across the GTA and Canada.

OUR ANNUAL DONOR REPORTS

The extended length of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused management to forgo the creation of Annual Donor Reports. We have opted to save scarce staff resources and push material to this public website.

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

If you are interested in historical reports that expand on the work that supports like you help make possible we’ve included a sample here.

Regards 

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2018

2017

2016