Central Falls, Rhode Island went bankrupt in 2011 after promising overly generous pensions to city employees. The city pulled itself out of bankruptcy last year and must now stick to a penny-pinching plan with no room for error or for luxuries like trash cans and public art. As a result, the impoverished city is getting creative: it's now raising $10,044 on the civic crowdfunding platform Citizinvestor in order to clean up its main public park. It's raised $245 so far.

Citizinvestor launched in September of 2012 to allow citizens to make tax-deductible donations to their cities and propose their own ideas. The site charges a 5 percent fee in addition to a 3 percent payment processing fee. Like Kickstarter, backers will not be charged until the campaign has reached its goal.

A cynic might say cities are already crowdfunded through taxes

A cynic might point out that cities are already crowdfunded through taxes, but the reality is that many economically strapped cities around the country can't afford basic improvements. If Central Falls meets its goal, it could serve as a model for other municipalities to follow.