ActionAid, the charity dedicated to fighting poverty has a sponsor a child scheme, which is part of their program of working with local communities.
When you sponsor a child, in reality you are supporting the local community in which that child lives. However you are giving information about the child and can write to him or her. Twice a year you get a message from them, and are also sent literature by actionaid keeping you up to date with the work that they are doing. However if the childs family moves away from the village, you are allocated a new child, so your funding stays with the community.
The sponsor a child program is a nice way to support communities in deprived areas of the world, and know that your money is going direct to that community (80% of it that is). We have sponsored a child in Kenya for quite a few years now. Other countries covered include Brazil, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, and China. It is only £15 per month.