2017 Annual Letter

The impact, results, and state of New Story after our third year as an organization. Addressed to New Story’s Builders, Advisors, partners and close friends of the organization.

New Story friends —

At the heart of New Story is innovation and continual improvement. In 2017, we improved how communities are designed, built new software products to increase speed and efficiency, embarked on a catalytic R&D project that could influence the sector, and much more. Yes, our core business is to build homes and transformative communities, but we wanted to start the letter by sharing what powers our culture and the future of New Story.

We feel it’s our responsibility to challenge traditional methods. Why?

Because traditional and linear methods will never reach the billion+ people who need homes. Challenging our assumptions, iterating based on data, and taking calculated risks on innovative ideas will allow us to reach more families with the best possible solutions, exponentially faster.

When you support New Story, the obvious direct result is a life-changing home — something to be incredibly proud of that you made happen. But the byproduct of your donation reaches beyond New Story’s organization and will help improve the global social housing sector as a whole. By partnering with us, you invest in New Story’s distinct approaches, processes, and breakthroughs (proven in the communities we build) that we will share with other governments and nonprofits to help them improve and reach families faster.

Having funded more than 1,300 homes at this point, it’s easy to focus on the growth, what’s next, and how we can improve. But it would be irreverent to focus on the big numbers without highlighting some of the individual life change.

Yolanda’s New Story

Yolanda Salazar didn’t expect one of the best and worst days of her life to be within a one week period of each other. Soon after her family moved into their new home, she received a mammogram as part of our local partner’s community programs. Through it, they were able to diagnose her with breast cancer. She’s currently receiving treatment for a disease she my have never known she had without moving into this community.

The Salazar family in front their old home. They lived on just $2.60 per day
Ahuachapan, El Salvador where the Salazar family just moved in.

610 — New Homes Funded

  • ~3,000+ life trajectories will be changed through these homes
  • This brings New Story to 1,300+ homes funded in our first three years

556 — New Homes Built

  • This number is up 126% from 2016!
  • Our ability to secure land across 3 countries is a result of strong government relationships and buy-in
1 of the 556 homes built in 2017

11 Communities

1,300+ total homes create the foundation for 11 thriving communities:

  • Haiti: Leveque, Minotrie, Gonaïves, Titanyen, Labodrie, Les Anglais, and Jeremie
  • El Salvador: Nuevo Cuscatlán, Ahuachapan
  • Bolivia: Mizque
  • Mexico: exact location TBD early 2018
Ahuachapan, El Salvador — a 91 home community funded by Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate

Organizational Improvements

1. Our first community built with participatory design was completed this year. Read “Make Something People Want Even If They’re Not Paying” to learn more on how this works and why it’s so important.

2. We evolved our approach to measuring data. In addition to longitudinal data (how families lives change moving into a New Story home), we will now A/B test how specific home design elements impact families. For example, does adding a shop window increase the likelihood of a family starting a business?

3. Our tech team built internal features to manage processes that will reduce manual work by an estimated 50%. Additionally, our fundraising platform was expanded to allow other charities to ‘white label’ our crowdfunding tools and raise funds for safe homes. See how World Housing is raising funds in partnership with New Story.

Spending and Revenue

We spent ~$1.1M* on overhead and generated $6.2M* in total revenue.

  • $3.9M in revenue that’s 100% restricted for homes
  • $2.3M in revenue that’s designated for operations
  • 16% of revenue was received in Bitcoin

*still waiting on EOY accounting and financials, this is not an exact amount.

The Builders — Funding Our Team and Overhead

The Builders (our private group of donors that cover overhead so 100% of your donation goes to build homes) generously pledged $2.2M on multi-year commitments. The 29 Builders are comprised of individuals, families, and foundations — they’re the engine that powers our team and long-term vision.

We added 15 new Builders in 2017 and are grateful to have a 96% annual renewal rate.

“World’s Most Innovative Companies”

We were honored to be named by Fast Company as one of the 2017 “World’s Most Innovative Companies” within the nonprofit sector.

We were the #5 nonprofit out of 10 nonprofits selected — alongside the Zuckerberg Foundation and Give Directly.

New Advisors and Partners

We’re fortunate to have the following advisors and partners join us:

  • Scott Harrison — CEO, charity: water
  • Jessica Jackley — Co-Founder, Kiva.org
  • Sherry Chris — CEO, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate
  • Robert Hohman — CEO, Glassdoor
  • Chris Crane — Former CEO, Opportunity International
  • George Huber — Managing Partner, Dock Square Capital
  • Gregg Nelson — Co-Founder, Trumark Companies
  • Dehan Glanz — Professor of Urban Design at Stanford University
  • Urban Design Team — Mitali Gangly, Henry Posada
  • Structural Engineer — Samantha Walker, Skidmore Owings & Merrill

An incredible group of partners allowed us to grow and improve:

Partnership highlights include a 150 home ($1M+) pledge from Sotheby’s International Realty and a new partnership with Architectural Digest to fund a 100 home community in Haiti.

Research and Development

We’re currently testing new approaches to build homes cheaper and faster, while improving quality.

In 2017, we invested (from our private Builder’s fund) capital for Phase I of a stealth R&D project that will have a public launch at SXSW in March 2018. We can’t wait to show you in March! In 2018, we will investigate advances in prefabricated home technology.


The team is our #1 asset as an organization. We end 2017 with 10 team members (Ops, Tech, Growth) and will be hiring more full-time roles in 2018. Sign up for job updates here.

Onward To 2018

As mentioned in the beginning of this letter, innovation and continual improvement is at the heart of New Story because we believe bringing more innovation to the global housing sector (1B+ people problem) is how we can impact the most families.

When you build communities with us in 2018, you’ll be directly changing lives and helping push forward bold new concepts as we relentlessly pursue the best way to serve and reach more families in need.

Please reach out with any questions or feedback — we’d love to hear from you.

With tremendous gratitude,

The New Story team