Crowdfunding can be a risky proposition

 

In just a couple of days, Keiji Inafune, the creator of the original Mega Man series, was able to raise a cool $1.2 million on Kickstarter.

Even though his project, which he calls Mighty No. 9, won’t be available until 2015, enough people believe in Inafune’s vision that he’s already raised $300,000 more than his original goal — and he still has a month left in the campaign.

The days of going door-to-door to ask for donations are over. If you have an idea, garnering support from generous strangers has never been as easy as it is now.

Crowdfunding, the act of pooling money from a group of people to fund an idea, can be dated back to Gulliver’s Travels author Jonathan Swift, who began a fund to help low-income families in Ireland. But this way of crowdfunding has changed immensely since then. In 2000, artistShare debuted as the first documented crowdfunding site for music. Five years later, Kiva came along as a microlending site for entrepreneurs in impoverished areas, with Indiegogo and Kickstarter following in 2008 and 2009, respectively.

Anyone can crowdfund — from average folks to the likes of Zach Braff and Spike Lee. Seeing a great project come to life is exciting for both the creator and his or her backers. Because many crowdfunding sites put the responsibility of investigating the validity of the creators and their projects on the backers, however, if you find out that you’ve been scammed, it’s your problem.

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