Hey, people are finding new ways to pool cash to help people out, not as a big program, but small amounts from the bottom up. Kiva.org and DonorsChoose.org are ways to do that, but here's one person doing it.
charitini.com is a special events micro-giving site that allows individual donations in lieu of token gifts (like a birthday drink), and aggregates the total toward the charity of the celebrant's choice. "Charitini – the site that lets you celebrate your birthday by getting drunk on giving."
Rachel Sklar's running this, and I'm looking forward to it.
Sometimes, big stuff emerges from many small efforts.