Crowdfunding is a fascinating device to me. It escapes being a full charity by the exchange of goods for the money that is being offered, but it seems to me to essentially be a charity. I think Chris said something along the lines of it being the digital version of extending your hand asking for spare change on the streets. The opportunities that crowdfunding opens up to inventors, entrepreneurs, and artists is astounding. Essentially, it cuts out the traditional middleman of the bank, production companies, and marketers, and puts all the power in the hands of the creators. But what motivates a person to give their money to someone they've never seen, and to something that may show very little return on investment?
I believe it has to be simply altruism. Why do people give their money to charities other than to feel like they've done something good, or made a difference? I believe the same concept has to be true here. Americans have this concept that anything can be done and anybody can become anything, but a lot of time money stands in the way of that ideal. Maybe a person will never achieve their ambitions, but at least they can say that they contributed to the success of someone else's dreams. That has to be the driving motivator behind these "donations."
But another things factors into crowdfunding, which is seeing a great idea come to fruition, which pays great dividends to the investor if the project becomes a reality. There are tons of ideas that never get off the ground because of lack of funding, so if a person sees an idea that they like, they can assure that it makes it by giving. For example, if someone told me they were going to create a Superman vs. Goku movie and they could prove to me that it wasn't going to suck if they got a certain amount of money, I would donate a lot of cash to that project because I know that if I didn't, I would never get to see something like that come to fruition because Hollywood probably isn't going to jump at such a niche movie. By donating, I can at least try to assure that this dream comes true.