There is a lot of buzz being generated by the practice of crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is basically when a group of people pool their resources to fund a project, business venture or fundraising campaign, usually using a fundraising website.
Kickstarter is one such website that has generated a lot of attention. Kickstarter is focused on creative projects and generally host projects by artists, filmmakers, musicians, designers, writers, illustrators, and others.
Basically, a person signs their project up and sets the funding goal. A time limit to generate the funding is set and the project must be fully funded before the time expires or no money exchanges hands. Those projects that are funded usually offer a reward such as a copy of the product or other benefits. Project creators devise their own rewards.
Kickstarter is just one site, and many crowdfunding sites are being geared towards entrepreneur ventures and can allow those funders to buy a small equity in a new company or project.