I’ve just come across Kickstarter – a site where you can pledge money to software development projects in return for incentives. The more you pledge, the better the incentive. It’s like pre-ordering, but your pledged money is taken immediately, which gives the developer funding to deliver on their promise at a later date.
I pledged on a linux game called In The Dark. In my case, my lowly $20 pledge gets me a copy of the game when it comes out – pledge more and you’ll get t-shirts, mentions and more.
EDIT : Sadly, it failed to make its target $10K, so while this might still go ahead, it won’t be getting its funding from Kickstarter.