What if someone is OK being a venture capitalist whose only return is to possibly get a cool product they would like to see exist?
Why should that be OK? That makes Kickstarter sound like an organization with a vested interest in getting people to act against their own interest. The whole point of spending money on a product is to get something tangible in return. With services, you have something measurable done to you. In the case of Kickstarter, there's a chance you'll get a product you want — but there's also a chance you'll just get the feeling that you participated in something that might have been when, in actuality, your money was pissed away and you never actually experienced anything outside your own goddamn skull. If all you desire is to feel good about something you're doing, why not just go masturbate? At least that's free and doesn't require any self-denial to enjoy.
Kickstarter, on the other hand, is what you get when you cross venture capital with those damn claw machines that were once ubiquitous at grocery stores. In order to care about the little plush toy you get at the end, you have to tell yourself you really had fun wiggling the joystick to drop the claw just so. The question is not one of legality, but rather of doing something worthwhile and encouraging others to do the same. For a better world and whatnot. I fail to see how Kickstarter figures into anything but the most circumscribed vision of such.