Giving to charity by writing a check is the most common form of philanthropy in the world. It is relatively simple and certainly direct. You don't need any formal structure, and it can be on any scale, ranging from a few bucks to your church to a multi-million dollar gift to your alma mater.
Checkbook philanthropy can be as strategic as any other if care is given to picking an organization that shares your values. It demands no administrative costs beyond the cost of your time in research, decision making, and keeping good records of your donations for tax purposes.
Checkbook philanthropists, no matter what size their donations, can also seek out donor education programs; and for those writing more hefty checks, philanthropic advisers can help with planning, and evaluation. SmartPhilanthropy.org and InspiredLegacies.org provide excellent information about philanthropic advisers and strategic giving.