I recently ran across a website that completely took my breath away.... Kiva.org.
The site allows everyday people like me and you to loan money to people in economically depressed areas, which in term, allows them to open or expand their businesses. By lending them money, you don't give them a handout, but a leg up. I like this idea because although I don't make a lot of money, I am an avid giver to charity and I enjoy seeing what the charities can do with the money they are given, but sometimes too much overhead can cut into their effectiveness. With microlending, there is a direct(semi) connection between you and the person that you will be helping. According to the site, 99% of the borrowers repay the loan in it's entirety, which I am sure is better repayment than what most US banks have. Not only that but I would think that there is a closeness, a sense of intimacy giving this way because you are directly involved with someones prosperity, because you share their dream enough to help them achieve it (or at least a part of it). The word Kiva is Swahili and has several meanings, they are harmony unity, approval, and agreement. ( No, I don't speak Swahili, I looked it up on http://www.kamusiproject.org/). I recommend that if you are into giving to help others, you look into this, i am almost positive that you will be glad you did.