If someone were to ask me for help to feed his family or for medical care I would not loan him the money but give it outright. There are many worthy charities that do this. On the other hand if someone wanted to invest the money to make more money it would be better to loan it. That would get him working and after it is paid back the money could be reused to make more loans. That is what Kiva, http://www.kiva.org, is all about.