Momentum has started
It is barely half over and 2023 has already shaped up to be a year of action and promise.
As we all know, it is one thing to accept an occasional donation from a corporation but it is another matter altogether to forge an ongoing commercial relationship with them. This is particularly true where charities are being paid for services. Dispelling the myth that charities provide services to corporations for free and remain afloat is a tough one.
When it comes to disposal of returned mattresses in Canada, retailers are forced to seek recycling which is often expensive and cumbersome and involves significant transportation costs. At Furniture Link Inc. we pursued a theory with our client Furniture Bank that charities could offer an alternative involving reuse of mattresses that was cost efficient to the retailer AND provided a revenue stream to the charity.
It took nearly three years of proof of concept trials and legal document wrangling but now a major retailer has signed a contract with Furniture Bank in Toronto for paid pick up of returned mattresses. This is the first time IKEA has contracted with a charity for service internationally! We estimate that at least three thousand mattresses a year will be diverted to reuse in the Greater Toronto Area.
Eastern Canada Roadtrip
Immediately upon the completion of that process, Furniture Link Inc, on behalf of the Furniture Bank Network, facilitated proof of concept trials in Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax. This follows about a year of discussion and negotiation but we know that it was worthwhile and the mattresses are sorely needed. Furniture Link and Furniture Bank were able to secure funding for staff to attend the launches in all three cities to support their success.
Marketing national corporate solutions
As many of you know, Furniture Link Inc. advises Furniture Bank on Sustainability Business Model Strategies and promotes the partnership of businesses, nonprofits and government to create robust and recurring sources of goods and revenues to the nonprofits who work in Homing. In 2023, the resources of a senior marketing manager have been engaged by Furniture Bank on our recommendation to pursue new partnerships with corporations to redirect returned or unwanted home goods to homing charities. Furniture Bank will be building these partnerships into their Furniture Bank Support Services model in 2023.
The next step will be to pursue relationships with other mattress retailers. We hope to extend the rollout of these to other cities in Canada to charities that are part of the Furniture Bank Support Services agreement (“FBSS”). The FBSS allows us to gather anonymized data which is used to persuade funders and corporate partners to engage and support the network.
Fundraising for a national network
In the course of discussion with FBN members in Canada it became obvious that the process of seeking out funding programs and churning out material for the application is swamping some organizations. Furniture Link has worked with Furniture Bank on strategies to share resources and Furniture Bank now has retained professional grant writing and application resources that are also being woven into the Furniture Bank Toronto’s Support Service (FBSS) model. Furniture Bank has seen considerable success in raising funds on behalf of the FBN to support a national framework that permits accessing the Toronto systems and services, but leaving local reuse charity in control of their own operations.
Furniture banks highlighted in research
As a member of the National Zero Waste Council (NZWC), Furniture Link participated in research into reuse systems in Canada and identified furniture banks as opportunities for reuse in home goods category. The Reuse in Canada Landscape Scan report provides valuable insights into the current landscape of reuse systems in Canada. This comprehensive study aimed to identify opportunities and gaps in various sectors and advance the development of reuse systems across the country. Read about it at Furniture Bank’s website here.
What's Next ?
Furniture Link is in negotiation with sofa-in-the-box retailers, national hotel chains and international furniture manufacturers to drive their unwanted goods your way as part of their standard operating process.