8 Great Charities
The gift: Help for an entrepreneur of your choice—from a fisherwoman in Samoa to a grocer in Haiti. It's a microfinance loan, so once the borrower repays you (usually within a year), you can either withdraw your money or reinvest in another venture.
First Book (FirstBook.org)
The gift: Ten books to help a young reader from a low-income family learn her ABCs and 123s. More than 80 percent of preschool and after-school programs for children from low-income families have no age-appropriate books for the kids they serve. Recipients of First Book books participate in community-based mentoring, tutoring, and family literacy programs.