Some of these institutions even enable people to borrow money directly to a person in need, on the other side of the world, such as www.kiva.org. You can take $20, and look for a person or project around the world that you wish to support, e.g. a family in Peru wants to build an organic garden and needs $1.200. Once enough people have funded the project, the recipients get the money and can start buying stuff and working on it, with very low interest rate and fixed terms as of when the money needs to be paid back. For me, it's a very nice thing that with relatively few money, I can (contribute to) help someone who wouldn't be able to realize his / her project otherwise.