#AI For Good

The picture isn't real.
The reality is.

This is furniture poverty


Avoiding "poverty porn"

For more than 40 years, charities have relied on “hard-hitting” photos to shock donors into giving. “Poverty porn” is thought to increase awareness, advocacy and fundraising efforts. But these images exploit, objectify and dehumanize people who are at their most vulnerable, all to generate a compelling photo for a fundraising campaign.

In this increasingly visual world, Furniture Bank must leverage photography to generate donation, but how, ethically, can we take photographs of people’s lowest moments? How can we ask those coming out of crisis and experiencing furniture poverty to pose for photos of their children sleeping on piles of clothes on the floor, or families eating dinner on a bare floor, or mothers on mildewed mattresses comforting their children? 

We can’t, and we won’t.

And yet, we need to show our supporters what this crisis looks like behind closed doors. For years we’ve been reliant on families who offered photos of their reality, but we cannot continue this practice. Instead, we’ve looked to our history of innovating with new technologies for an answer…

Enter Artificial Intelligence

Providing new capabilities for our mission

Since 2022, we have been leveraging AI technology in innovative and successful ways. Instead of trying to capture the realities of furniture poverty through a traditional camera, we are disrupting the fundraising campaign model by engaging with Artificial Intelligence (AI) to create these images. 

Though AI-generated art continues to spawn fierce debate in art circles, and leading to questioning the validity of AI-generated art, for Furniture Bank, it’s allowing us to communicate the dire situations our clients are living in with our donors responsibly.

By using AI tools like MidJourney, Dall-E and Stable Diffusion, we are able to use stories from from our clients that describe the reality of furniture poverty—sleeping on stained mattresses, children doing their homework on the floor in an empty living room, a kitchen that has nothing but a sink and some cupboards—to generate images that capture the desolation and isolation without requiring our clients to compromise their dignity.

AI basic imagine prompt
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How GenAI can 'imagine' the poverty behind closed doors.

The Generative AI Revolution at Furniture Bank

How technology empowers our mission to furnish hope

In our groundbreaking 2022 annual campaign that featured AI images, Furniture Bank harnessed the revolutionary capabilities of Generative AI to vividly illustrate the stark realities faced by families living without essential home furnishings. Through this innovative campaign, we generated 40 unique visualizations depicting homes devoid of comfort and dignity—realities all too familiar for thousands of our clients. These powerful images were transformed into postcards and dispatched to our valued donors, symbolizing the profound impact of their contributions, from sofas to kitchenware, in alleviating hidden poverty within their communities.

Fast forward to today, and we are not just resting on our laurels but expanding upon this foundation. Furniture Bank continues to integrate the latest advancements in technology and Generative AI, pioneering new methods to amplify our mission. Our ongoing commitment leverages these digital innovations not only to enhance our storytelling but also to optimize our operations and extend our reach. This journey into the future of philanthropy reaffirms our belief: through the thoughtful donation of reusable home goods and financial support, we can collectively eradicate furniture poverty in Canada. 

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#AIForGood Posts

Sample of AI Art used to show how to avoid poverty porn while showing the pain caused by furniture poverty.

Check out the 40 images we created using AI that imagine the reality behind closed doors.

Case Studies

How we continue our digital transformation by applying AI tools for a bigger impact on our Annual Campaign.