I discovered the Kickstarter community about a year ago and was instantly addicted. For those of you who aren't familiar with the concept ... the Kickstarter site allows individuals to help fund projects that they are interested in. First, a person with a project writes a campaign pitch and posts it on the site. Then, people from all over the world can contribute if they desire to help the project succeed. If the pitch does not raise a specific amount of money in the time frame, none of the contributions are given to the project. If the monetary pledge goal is met or exceeded, all backers are automatically charged for their pledge. Often, backers receive some sort of incentive based on their level of support to the project.
I first heard about Kickstarter through a game company that I follow - Looney Labs. They were doing a campaign to make a better version of one of their games. I started looking through the site and found MANY campaigns that looked interesting. Over the past year, I've mostly been supporting gaming campaigns (and have gotten an advance line on some great new games as a result) with a few publishing, food, and design projects in the mix.
The site uses a wheel graphic to show what sort of campaigns you have supported, and when I was writing this set of DayZero goals, I decided it would be fun to fill all the colors in on my personal wheel with a donation in each category. Today, I pledged to my last two unfilled categories: dance: supporting a non-profit dance program for children with physical disabilities and film: where I'm backing a short animated film about Tesla (the inventor). Although neither campaign has ended yet, both are above their minimum funding levels, so I am confident that they will go forward.
Kickstarter is a lot of fun. Even if you don't choose to fund a project, it's a great way of seeing ideas that people are working on. I usually can't afford the design or technology category projects at the level to get the incentive level I'd like, but some of them are fabulous things. Also, if you are interested in the arts, there are many projects in those categories that may spark interesting ideas for your own work. Plus, there are a few great humanitarian ideas mixed in as well - one of the projects I supported early this year was building a remoter controlled sensor to find forgotten active landmines in previously war-torn areas. Take a look at what's out there ...