Kickstarter tugs at our need for connection

I recently contributed $100 to a friend of a friend’s Kickstarter campaign.

Illustration from the Kickstarter campaign, The Shadows of the Ages, by Terra Bulla Ink.

In so doing, I joined legions of so-called altruistic investors around the world who are rushing to back budding creative entrepreneurs they have never met.

In my particular case, I invested in artists who hope to raise $5,000 to write, illustrate and publish a mythical, science-fiction book entitled “The Shadows of the Ages”.

In return, if their campaign is successful, I will receive an autographed copy of the book and a “very limited edition ‘Top Secret’ package containing a treasure trove of autographed collectables.”

Am I a connoisseur of illustrated books about alternate universes? Not exactly. I’m more of a sports guy.

Do I think $100 towards such a book constitutes a sound financial investment? As a former bank executive I can say with complete confidence: not at all.

So why are hundreds of thousands of people like me making investments that on the surface make no sense? I think it’s because in this IPO, profit-crazy, disconnected world, Kickstarter touches upon our basic human instinct to help others.

Instead of investing in a faceless corporation, with Kickstarter campaigns we are introduced to people who inspire us. We are invited into the minds, hopes and dreams of individual creators. We have a chance to reach out and help them directly.

By investing, we build a connection and become part of a community of believers and supporters.

We are so used to being able to purchase things that we want or need—but you can’t walk into a store and buy the things that make life truly meaningful: social connection and community. Those are things we have to build from scratch—through trust, friendship and leaps of faith.

The campaign I supported may not even succeed. But, contributing has opened my eyes to a whole different way of investing.