one thing i did about year ago was sign up for microplace.com which is owned by ebay. its a micro lending site for individual lenders to lend small amounts. i lend a few dollars at a time to people in countries where loans or money aren't as easily accessible for them as it is for us (in america). I make the loans in the names of friends and family members, as gifts. when i signed up, microplace would send a little piggy bank to the people i named as donors. i happen to think these were the best gifts i've given in a while. not only did i get to help others in need, and honor my friends and family members by naming them as donors, but i also got a return on my money. keep in mind the returns, like the loans, are micro, but they are returns nonetheless (2-4%).
i realize i won't reach my retirement goal with just these investments. but its a start.
i've also read about kivo.org, which is pretty much the same but loans more to poor(er) americans.