We all know it takes three things to start a fire: heat, fuel and oxygen.

It also takes three things to turn a dream into reality: faith, a great team, and people like yourself who invest in the vision early on.

Just like a fire, if you don’t have all three, you’re left with nothing.

This is especially true in West Africa, which is one of the poorest regions in the world. Here, there is a long list of hurdles to overcome: corrupt governments, poor infrastructure, and debilitating poverty.

But thanks to our committed team, God’s faithfulness, and your support, we recently got to celebrate a major milestone:

The SCOPE International team just returned from an amazing trip to Africa where we delivered 300,000 books!

Here is what we learned:

For a long time, nonprofits have tried to help people in poverty through charity – by giving them things for free. Free meals, free clothes, free electricity-generating soccer balls. Free anything.

The reason is simple: unlike businesses, nonprofits are not funded by the people they serve (the homeless don’t pay for shelters, for example). Instead, they’re funded by donors. And donors want to see results – pictures of smiling children, high impact-to-dollar ratios, and low overhead costs.

So if you’re running a nonprofit, what’s the easiest way to get those donor-driven results? Through charity: Give stuff away for free! You get the smiling faces. You get the low overhead costs. And if your “impact numbers” are based on how much stuff you give away for free … well, they should be pretty high!

But all too often, charity has only made things worse. And after funding giveaways that go to the same people year after year, donors start to wonder if they’re really making a difference.

Thankfully, donors are starting to realize that there’s a smarter way to help people in poverty – by giving opportunity. That is why we are so proud of the work we are doing. Books and education help provide opportunity for those in need. When you donate to SCOPE International, you are giving opportunity and making a real difference in people’s lives.