Furniture Bank is a registered charity and social enterprise that offers a furniture removal / pickup service. We transfer gently used furniture and household goods donated by individuals and corporate donors, to people who have recently transitioned out of homelessness, women and children escaping abusive situations, and refugees & newcomers to Canada. In the process, we help turn an empty space into a true home.
Since 1998, we have helped over 65,000 individuals overcome poverty and homelessness. We also work with employment agencies to offer job opportunities to individuals facing barriers to employment in different parts of our operations.
We work in partnership with various corporations and organizations to ensure that we provide the most effective customer service to our furniture donors, clients and agency partners.
Furniture Bank was Federally incorporated with the goal of ending this problem across Canada. At present we actively service our clients and donors in the Greater Toronto Area. Our furniture removal / pickup service covers the entire Greater Toronto Area and have gone across southern ontario for the right projects.
We are working hard to alleviate the problem of families and individuals living in homes without furniture in the Greater Toronto Area with plans to grow to address this issue provincially and nationally.
The story of how we were formed is quite interesting. One evening Sister Anne Schenck (founder of Furniture Bank) was invited to the apartment of a family of five for dinner. When she arrived, she found a ‘home’ furnished with a milk crate used as a table, and a pot which the dinner was cooked and served in. She learnt that her hosts ate and slept on the floor.
On her way back home that evening, she came upon a gently used sofa that had been left out on the curb for disposal. Sister Anne credits that experience for spawning the idea that gave rise to Furniture Bank – an organization that facilitated the transfer of furniture from individuals disposing of gently used items, to homes in need of them.
In her social work in the years that followed, she encountered a dire lack of furnishing options for financially vulnerable individuals, and a growing collection of supporters of her idea. With the help of numerous volunteers, countless hours of pro-bono work and financial donations, small and large, Sister Anne formally incorporated Furniture Bank as a charity in 1998.
Since then, Furniture Bank has evolved to become much more than about a simple transfer of furniture from those who have, to those who don’t. The Furniture Bank movement is one of empowerment – of individuals transitioning out of homelessness, of women and children escaping abusive situations, of refugees and newcomers to Canada. Because we realise that furniture plays a powerful, albeit silent, role in our lives. We are all indebted to the use of furniture to live fulfilling lives – just try studying for an exam, resting after a hard day’s work, preparing a meal, or raising a family. Without furniture, even mundane tasks are near impossible. Over the years, we have built up partnerships with a growing list of social service agencies and shelters who play a critical role in ensuring anyone in need of a fresh start is invited to our showroom, and given the dignity of choosing the items of furniture they would like to have in their homes.
We are a Federal Charity and operate a social enterprise business unit inside of the charity. This creates a very unique hybrid organization where our truck fleet is actively providing furniture removal services and immediately providing that furniture to the charitable part of our organization. There is no separation between entities for us.
With over 40 full and part time staff, a 27,000 sq foot showroom/warehouse and a growing trucking fleet we match the growth of the social enterprise to the need for furniture within the community.
Working closely with Sleep Country Canada to provide our clients with mattresses and box springs through their mattress recycling program
Working closely with You Move Me to offer an express service to our furniture donors who can’t (and won’t wait) for our own trucks.
Other companies like moving company Collins and Greig to provide pickup and delivery support when we have need of them.
Furniture Bank started its social enterprise in 2004 with 1 truck. From that humble beginning we have grown our social enterprise in 2014 to represent 51% of our revenues, at $1.1 million in revenues. We are very committed to reducing our need to rely on financial donations for operating costs, rather prefer to use them for our employment program that is tied to the social enterprise.
Impacts & Outcomes
- Over 4000 families in the GTA called the social enterprise for furniture removal service.
- Our 7 trucks and corporate partnerships helped us move over 45000 items of furniture to Furniture Bank.
- This same furniture went towards furnishing homes for 2,600 families
These families included:
- 1,200 refugees
- 1,668 formerly homeless
- 1,900 children
- 2,800 women
- Over 28,000 households furnished with furniture from our community donations.
- 300,000 furniture items recycled (redistributed)
- 10,000 tonnes of waste diverted from landfill
Today – 10 years into our social enterprise – we now are confronting the challenge of scaling the social enterprise. Accomplishing adding more trucks, logistics, partnerships, warehouse efficacy, showroom processes to maximize turnover, and looking at satellite locations to expand our reach and impact. These challenges are in some ways MUCH HARDER than the early beginning – as they require capital (a rare commodity in a charity) to be able to invest in new equipment and processes. New social enterprise opportunities in related fields appear almost daily and we need to stay on target.
Great teams of people and partnerships are proving to be the most valuable resource for furniture bank. Without the volunteers, staff and partnerships we could not scale Furniture Bank, the charity nor the social enterprise.
In the end – to ensure the power of furniture is available to all Canadian’s transitioning from difficult situations. Short term however, over the next 3 years through the collection and delivery of furniture, Furniture Bank will provide comfort and dignity to 21,000 financially insecure persons who are emerging from displacement. During this same time, as an integral part of the furniture delivery operations, Furniture Bank will provide on-the-job training for life and work skills, and employment opportunities to 30 persons who have the potential for but are facing barriers to full time employment.
Last Year's Revenue was $2,200,000 in 2014
Furniture Bank is a registered charity.
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