Since Kickstarter is run by a mere 5 members around the US, you currently can create a fundraiser via invite only. You set a goal for X amount of $ in Y amount of days, make a video explaining your project and offer tiered rewards and incentives to people who help you out. As a patron, you can browse and select projects that speak to you, make a pledge via Amazon.com, and spread the word to help them succeed.
If the project doesn't meet it's goal, your pledges are canceled and ZERO funds are released. It seems cruel at first but they explain why on the site and it totally makes sense. Balance is everything, guys.
What excites me the most is rarity of a system where everyone benefits! The patron gets to be a part of a great idea, the creators gain a support system whether or not they are able to reach their goal, and Kickstarter makes a tiny profit if goals are met. And of course, to have the financial support to carry out your dreams is pretty sweet too.
Kickstarter's simple mission reminds me that the formula "less is more" works, and we shouldn't try to get it twisted. I'd really like to pick the beautiful brains of these guys and gals. I just wish I knew how to find them or at least read more of how they started up! Well, if you are one of those 5 geniuses and see this post, and are ever in the San Francisco Bay Area, I'd love to grab a cup of coffee and chat!
I encourage anyone who has an A-HA idea but thought, "I just don't have the money" to follow Kickstarter on Twitter and check out their main site here.
UPDATE: You can also read another great summary I just found by Diana Kimball. Definitely she puts it better than I.