Full Disclosure Charity (a free* idea)
Anyone who has sponsered a child in Africa has probably noted the footnote in the portfolio that says the child portrayed is merely indicative of the type of child their money is helping, and that their donations are pooled to cover numerous projects.
I, and I'm sure many others, would be more charitable to such causes if:
Two friends having coffee, one mentions they sponsor a child, the other responds with "that's nice, well done"
Two friends having coffee, one mentions they sponsor a child, and gets out an actual warts'n'all depiction of the real world of this child, and evidence of how her funds have made a difference. The other responds with "wow, how can I achieve such results myself"
Ulimately, deep down, we do nice things for others because it makes us feel nice to have done so. So to increase the levels of charitable donations, increase the experience. As much as I would love to travel through a 3rd world country and "discover" my own pet project to donate to, I'm a bit too busy to take such a holiday. But if I were presented with a multimedia presentation of a worthy cause that just needed $5000 and I would be its sole benefactor and I would get to see the results & I wouldn't have to leave my home to do this - count me in.
The Key - Affordable New Technology
It is a modern phenomena to hear of IT experts in countries where we least expect to find them - and they are not expensive. These days the hardware required to provide basic information about a charitable project, and to transmit it, is neglible compared to the extra donations that would occur.
I'm confident that such a methodology could increase charitable donations 10 fold or even 100 fold.
Imagine... when half the blogs and corporate websites on this planet have a little icon that links to multimedia information regarding their charitable donations, for visitors to click on.
UPDATE: I have since discovered that such a service exists, Kiva, but rather than being based on donation/charity, it is loan/3rd world business person. Example below:
UPDATE #2: I received an email letting me know that whereas only 7% of money donated to World Vision actually gets to the help the children, Baptist World Aid Australia are apparantly the real deal, and you have a 1-to-1 r/ship with the child.