Until recently, you may have been unfamiliar with crowdfunding. That is, until everyone and their dog (I’m not kidding, there are literally dogs on these sites) engaged in the online world of fundraising by way of sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. But, while there are plenty of stories of celebrities using and abusing crowdfunding platforms, they seem to indeed be in the minority. Below are five stories meant to renew and restore, inspire, engage, and maybe tear up, just a little.

Robocop Statue
In 2011, it took only 45 days to raise just under $68,000 for the construction of a Robocob statue in Detroit, Michigan. The idea was initially just a tweet by John Leonard directed at Mayor Dave Bing—“Philadelphia has a statue of Rocky and Robocop would kick Rocky’s butt. He’s a GREAT ambassador for Detroit.” People responded first with their enthusiasm and then with their dollars. The statue is currently under construction.

Help the Haleys Have a Baby
After three years of trying to conceive, Jessica Haley and her husband decided to undergo medical treatment for infertility. Unfortunately, their insurance covered 0% of the costs—over $16,000. They decided, somewhat hesitantly, to share their story on crowdfunding platform Indiegogo. After months of painful treatments, Jessica shared her pregnancy on the site. “Our dream of becoming parents is becoming a reality. On Wednesday, October 5th, I will be nine weeks pregnant.” She goes on, “We don’t have the normal story of how we conceived our first child, but we do have a miracle story, one that involves hundreds of people from all over. So, thank you forever and always. Well never be able to say it enough.” On April 7, 2012 baby girl Landon was born.

World’s Largest Jockstrap
Artist Michael Barrett wanted to make the world’s largest jock strap to be included in the Guinness Book of World Records. Barrett sewed a strap ten times larger than any in existence, but was unable to fund the $850 service fee required by the keeper of records. Through Kickstarter, Barrett raised the money and is now recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the record holder in the category of largest athletic supporter/jockstrap. It is 12 feet one inch tall and 13.1 inches wide.

He Said She Said That’s What She Said
In 2012, Jeff Harms wanted to produce a studio album in two parts. He successfully funded his campaign through Kickstarter and doubled the money he asked for with the support of 103 backers. For a $50 donation, Harms promised to write and record a song (revised in the studio up to two times if required) for his backers about or for anything they desired. Among them? His grandmother. Awwwww.

Air Quality Egg
The Air Quality Egg is a product pitched on Kickstarter designed to measure the air pollution anywhere—which means no manipulated data, no waiting for reports, no more not knowing. The project founders hope the egg will initiate more conversations about the environment—927 backers agree.

Final Thoughts
And those are just five stories from across the crowdfunded board. Crowdfunding continues to inspire new, innovative products and people. Kickstarter, while one of many, reports success after success in 2012—over $1 million raised, including projects in art, music, film, publishing, theater, games. There are 2.2 million people giving money to projects across 177 countries.

90% of the countries in the world are participating in crowdfunding dreams—are you? (Top image: Flickr | mandiberg)

* Read more from Speaking of Wealth

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Why Podcasting Rocks the World’s Socks Off

Janelle Pierce is a writer and small business owner interested in providing advice to small business owners. She has a background in internet marketing and likes writing about crowd-funding, online storefronts, sales, shipping, and merchant accounts.