I stumbled upon your post as I was thinking about this same topic. I have donated to Heifer International in the past, because I thought their programs seemed more sustainable than others that seem to depend on passing out beans, rice, and peanut powder (though I am all for emergency short-term aid, obviously, as long as it's not mistaken for a long-term economic solution). I do wonder if livestock pressure from animals that aren't carefully managed (because I wonder if you're worried about where tomorrow's breakfast is going to come from, are you going to have time to be like, "Oh, I need to think about sustainable livestock management") could be detrimental in the long term, but I hope many communities have the wisdom to avoid those kinds of problems.
So, what's your take on this: recently, some ladies in my social circles have been really into purchasing jewelry, clothing, and little household items from small charities set up for women who are especially vulnerable (many who have come out of sex trafficking and similar industries) and don't have any family support. I really like the idea of supporting a good cause, but I don't know how I feel about buying a beaded necklace I don't need instead of just donating money. I am very much in support of direct micro-loans to entrepreneurs worldwide, but I'm wondering if this type of Fair Trade knick knack selling is sustainable? Or is it worth it for the individuals whose lives are turned around, no matter what the long-term effects are? That sounds very callous, I just don't want to give only with my heart, and not with my head as well.
So, just wondering, Cris, if you've thought any more about this, or if you've discovered any other sustainable charities with long-term solutions?