I know it’s two days before Christmas  but if you’re feeling the urge to make a difference this holiday season, I’ve compiled a few ways you can help people directly:

• Heifer International is an organization that lets you (or a group of folks making smaller donations) buy gifts that will continue to help the recipients such as cows, sheep, bees, chickens, goats, trees etc. These gifts provide the recipients with eggs, wool, milk, honey, fruit and more plus proper training so that they can become self-reliant and in turn, sustain their families and communities for the long term.

• Give Naked uses microdonations to help people in dire need of help. 100% of your donation will join the donations of others to fill an urgent need of a specific individual or family. If you like to know exactly how someone has been helped by your donation, Give Naked is a good choice.

• Kiva is an organization that lets people make microloans of $25 to help entrepreneurs around the world, many of which are women, become self-sufficient. Loan repayment is part of the deal so when the loan has been satisfied, you will be repaid.  A small amount of money that many of us would spend on dinner out without a second thought could change someone’s life for the better and, for what it’s worth, Kiva was endorsed by Oprah on her 2010 Oprah’s Favorite Things show.

Bonus: If you give before January 1st, you can also take advantage of charitable deductions for the 2010 tax year!