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Furniture Bank: The UpperCrust of Upcycling

For thousands of people across Canada eating dinner around a kitchen table every night is a tradition, for many others however, furniture is a luxury that is just out of reach. Furniture Bank is a Social Enterprise and charity that helps connect people in need with the dignity and stability of a furnished home. An innovator in the upcycling movement, Furniture Bank refurbishes donated pieces of furniture into gorgeous boutique pieces. We recently caught up with Betty Fiksel, Board Member and Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee, to learn more about how she got involved and how they’ve achieved success.

Betty first became involved with Furniture Bank after her father passed away and her family donated some of his belongings to Furniture Bank. She volunteered and had the unique opportunity to follow her father’s furniture through the warehouse and to its new home. Betty has seen the success of Furniture Bank with their pick-up and delivery program, employment program and partnerships with other organizations across the GTA. From their humble beginnings in 1998, Furniture Bank is growing quickly and has helped over 65,000 individuals, re-distributed 380,000 furniture items and diverted 13,000 tonnes of waste over 20 years. Amazing.

Excited about their future and opportunities to expand their social impact mission beyond the GTA and into other areas of Canada, Furniture Bank found themselves in need of a new Strategic plan. Furniture Bank contracted Eco-Ethonomics Inc. to help guide them through the process of developing a 3-year strategic plan.

“One of the exercises that Ryan (President and CEO of Eco-Ethonomics) had us do was a SWOT-PESTLE analysis. We went through a ton of sticky-notes and we learned so much from it. The unnecessary things we were doing, the ways we were considering unproductive, competitive partnerships.” The Strategic Plan that Eco-Ethonomics developed “does not just sit on a shelf, we have it open every day and it guides us.”  Furniture Bank has since organized and mobilized the board, committee and management team in order to achieve the goals outlined in the strategic plan, which include expansion into the GTA and obtaining a new funder. Overall “we have been busy and on point.”

When asked what advice she would like to give her fellow change makers Betty said:
“Follow your dreams and do what is necessary to fulfil them, collaborate, communicate and inspire people.”

To learn more about furniture bank and the amazing work they do, visit their website at: https://www.furniturebank.org/