Have we talked about Kiva?
To just be totally lazy and quote directly from their website, Kiva is an organization that "empowers individuals to lend to an entrepreneur across the globe. By combining microfinance with the internet, Kiva is creating a global community of people connected through lending."
I first read about Kiva in Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn's brilliant book, Half the Sky. Since then, I've made microloans to people in Mongolia, Rwanda, Viet Nam, Senegal, Peru, Tanzania, Cambodia, and Uganda.
None of my loans are huge-- in fact, many of them are only $25. And one of the cool things about Kiva is that as people pay back their loans, you can roll that money over into new loans. (Or, if you want, you can withdraw your money-- with a little interest. Although I'm guessing most people just roll 'em back over.)
Also, Kiva gift certificates make great gifts. I gave one to my step-mom for her birthday last year, and she LOVED it. She spent hours looking for exactly the right person to give her loans to, and she follows their progress online.
Anyway, that's my sales pitch. If you've got a spare $25, Kiva can help you put that money to good use.