Want to know how to really make a difference? Visit the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab. For over a decade, the lab has been (1) testing how effective programs and policies really are at reducing poverty (and publishing the results to help you); (2) partnering with policymakers to help ramp up what works; and (3) giving practitioners the training they need to evaluate what they’re doing. They have reports and programs in agriculture, education, environment & energy, finance & microfinance, health, labor markets, and political economy & governance. (If you have skills in these areas, they also have job listings.)
Read a Financial Times “Food & Drink” interview with Esther Duflo for a clear and simple basic summary of her work and findings (by an interviewer who is just as fascinated in the food they are eating).
Want to be sure your funds are not wasted in a corrupt system or organization? Look at the ratings at Transparency International.