I think that the good kind of charitable giving is exactly what your parents did, going and teaching a valuable skill that others can use to help themselves. I guess it foes back to the "education is the key" mantra that so many people tout, but it's true.
So while I disagree with your post and I believe that many, if not most, of charitable donations are poorly spent, siphoned off by bureaucracy, or otherwise wasted, teaching people skills is a type of charity that I would support.
Though the model you post about sounds like it was actually quasi-charity, as students had to pay for the classes. This I believe is the best of both worlds, as it allows do-gooders (your parents and other donors who supported the program) to do good, but it also requires sacrifice from the student and their families, which builds character and makes it more likely that the gift will be recognized for what it is and appreciated - and that the person will go and do likewise for others.
From my iPhone - excuse typos etc
Really? I'd be interested to hear why you think that. Are you speaking from personal experience? Have you been involved with different charities and been dismayed or shocked when you looked at how poorly run or wasteful they were?
I gave just one example of what my parents did. But, I was surrounded by people that worked for Christian missionary agencies, and non-religious organizations overseas while growing up. They all did a wide variety of things from straight religious work, education, running hospitals, building houses, schools, wells, teaching better agricultural techniques, etc...
All of that was funded by donations to the non-profits that they were working for. If you want to call that other work "quais-charity" I guess that's up to you. But, I've been involved in the grass roots with many different non-profit's and that's pretty much what the vast majority of them do.
I can't think of a single organization out of the dozens that I personally interacted with that simply handed out cash to people.
Haiti population graph: http://www.google.com/publicdata?ds=wb-wdi&met=sp_pop_to...
Haiti Unemployment: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Haitiunemployment.GIF
Haiti aid: (for relative scale of aid) http://www.devex.com/articles/haiti-aid-facts
USA GDP graph: http://www.google.com/publicdata?ds=wb-wdi&met=ny_gdp_mk...