Crowd-funding Mesa has been brought up time and again, but among existing contributors, money really isn't the limiting factor. Sans Nouveau where it's a community-based reverse-engineering project, the Radeon Gallium3D stack is financed by AMD and the Intel driver (along with core Mesa) is financed obviously through Intel's growing OTC team, plus there's VMware with more core Mesa contributions.
Even with Nouveau, money hasn't been a huge factor since most of the involved developers are students and mostly with funds they have just been after new hardware. There was also the original Nouveau fundraiser back in the day that raised $10,000 USD five years ago, but it really wasn't clear who the beneficiaries were and that at the time they had tax-related problems in collecting the funds.
There's also been some of the independent Mesa contributors (such as Marek) just after beer and/or PayPal tips. Student developers also can turn to the Google Summer of Code or X.Org EVoC to obtain financing for an open-source graphics project. On a separate note, while nothing ever came of it, there was also talk of sponsoring an open-source developer for $1 per day.
Anyhow, there's now an independent contributor seeking crowd-funding to work on Mesa. However, this developer isn't a current active Mesa contributor or even very familiar with the code-base. He wants to raise $2,500 to basically learn Mesa, and to work on the OpenGL GL_KHR_debug extension. He's not a student developer but wants the money to take time off from his full-time (unrelated) job to try Mesa development.
Those wanting to check out his IndieGoGo page or find other details, he's created a thread in our forums. Additionally, in an email to me, he explained more of his rationale:
I thought this might be something that interests you. After years of wanting to I recently decided to make a real attempt at contributing to the Mesa project. I found a good extension to work on that was not to technical in the GL_KHR_debug extension (OpenGL 4.3) and set about trying to understand the Mesa codebase. I have made a good start in understanding Mesa and in setting up some infrastructure code for the extension and believe I will be able to come up with some working patches without too much trouble. My problem however is time, unlike most new Mesa contributors I'm not a University student and I'm not hired to work on the project as part of my day job. I also have a young family at home therefore my contributions to open source usually consist of hacking on my laptop while I commute on the train to and from work. While I would eventually come up with some working code continuing to work on this only in my spare time. I would be able to come up with something much faster and of better quality if I had some dedicated time to put towards this cause.
So, I've decided to setup an experiment of sorts. Multiple times on your forums I have read comments (and made comments myself) about using crowd sourcing to fund open source driver development. Rather than go all out trying to raise a huge sum of money I have setup a small project on indiegogo as a type of proof of concept to see whether a larger project would really be viable. To make things a bit more interesting if I reach my stretch goal I will dedicate some of the time towards creating some documentation on Mesa based on my understanding of Mesa throughout development. This would hopefully be useful to others considering contributing but with no idea where to start.