cost-effective compassion

Today, thanks to economic globalization and the Internet, those who want to care for the poor overseas enjoy a plethora of attractive options: sponsoring a child, donating a farm animal, making a small loan to a budding entrepreneur, installing a well in a village, getting a morning caffeine jolt with fair-trade (instead of free-trade) coffee—among others.
 
But what are the best ways to help those living in developing countries? By "best," I mean most effective: things that actually help people rise out of poverty, and that carry with them a sizable "bang for your buck"—programs in which the impact on the poor is significant per donated dollar.
 
Answering this question proves more difficult than you'd expect.

 Bruce Wydick in CT.