One of the most useful (though sadly, often forgotten) aspects of the Internet is the ability to contact with people all over the world, in real-time.  Just this month, I have exchanged email with a friend overseas, bought a Father's Day gift, and done research through an Australian library.  The Internet has greatly increased our ability to do personal things, but it has also increased our ability to give to others.

The best part about online charities is that you can feel secure knowing that you can receive up-to-date information about where your money is headed.  A friend of mine proudly displays email in his office, written to him by a child in Africa to whom he donated a laptop.  This sort of real-time exchange is what makes charity a viable option for busy web browsers.  While there are many (many!) worthy charities, I decided to highlight three very unique ones that are fledging, worthy of attention, and in need of support.

Began in 2005, Kiva is the world's first micro-lending website.  The site gives you the ability to lend money to overseas small business entrepreneurs, which, like any other loan, you will receive back.  It may sound risky, but the success rate of full loan returns is well over 90%.  One of their main goals is to create as transparent a system is possible, so that potential lenders can see exactly how money flows through the cycle.

Started as recently as this week, Hoops for Troops aims to provide recreational materials to overseas American Army troops.  The goals of the charity are best stated in their Facebook group page:

"Basketball is one of the main activities for the troops during down time. While the courts may not be in perfect condition, the exercise and escape from their day to day [sic] duties is critical to their overall happiness. Our hope is to raise enough money to replace their homemade basketball rims, send new basketballs and hopefully lift their spirits by expressing our sincere gratitude to them for their service to our country."

In addition, the official website grants donators the ability to leave blog-styled messages to the troops, and it will soon feature pictures of the soldiers receiving their gifts.

This website is not a single charity; it's more of a one-stop-shop for hundreds of charities.  The great thing about this site is that it eliminates two of the common frustrations with charities: researching for the perfect donating opportunity and having enough income to donate successfully.  All of the research is in one place, and donations for some of them start as low as $5 for needed eyeglass examines.

All of these sites appropriately incorporate Web 2.0 capabilities to further their campaigns.  Take a break from your favorite celebrity gossip page, and check out some of these causes.