The most famous of all the crowdfunding sites is US pioneer Kickstarter. The platform is aimed at creative businesses and projects, raised just over £2m in its first month, and has signed up 45,799 backers to date.
But if you're looking into crowdfunding as an option for your business, there are many more platforms available - some even homegrown. Many of them have different guidelines and look for different returns for investors – equity or rewards for example, so you'll have to find the right one to suit your project.
Here are eight of the major players, hand-picked by entrepreneurs' organisation Prelude:
Launched back in February 2011, Exeter-based Crowdcube claims to be the world's first equity crowdfunding website. It has just been awarded FSA approval, so it's a pretty safe bet for first-time crowdfunders.
Who's it aimed at? Crowdcube is best suited to ambitious start-ups looking for significant investment to support a growth strategy.
2. Funding Circle
Since launching in August 2010, Funding Circle has raised £74.5m in loans for businesses. The site allows investors to browse businesses that Funding Circle has underwritten and approved for lending.
Who's it aimed at? This is the best bet for established businesses that are looking for quick, low-cost loans.
Still quite fresh, Seedrs launched in July 2012 having received £1.35m in investment itself. Seedrs allows people to invest relatively small amounts of money into start-ups – lowering the barrier of entry. It also has FSA approval.
Who's it aimed at? Seedrs best suits companies that are either pre-launch or pre-revenue. As the name suggests, it is for seed capital.
Working solely with renewable energy projects, Abundance allows people to invest in and benefit from energy production. When investors buy a debenture through Abundance they have the right to a percentage of the revenue generated from the sale of the electricity produced.
Who's it aimed at? Renewable energy projects, natch.
If you are a social entrepreneur – this is the platform for you. Buzzbnk brings together social ventures with those keen to participate in funding and supporting social and environmental change. Investments can be made in return for goods or services or as a loan. By listing your enterprise on Buzzbnk you can also offer investors the chance to pledge their time and support.
Who's it aimed at? Social enterprises only.
Largely for creative projects, Sponsume is a multicurrency platform started by French entrepreneur Gregory Vincent, headquartered in London. Helping projects such as documentaries, theatre projects, fashion and photography – the investors are offered rewards related to the projects rather than ownership or a slice of the profits.
Who's it aimed at? This platform suits fun, unique, creative start-ups.
Founded in San Francisco, Indigogo is a global platform catering for all sorts of projects and start-ups. Unlike most of the crowdfunding sites, this offers a flexible funding model which allows you to keep investments even if you don't reach your funding target.
Who's it aimed at? There's everything from fundraising for cancer treatments, to funding for a film to be made.
Late last year Crowdfunder, operated by Crowdcube, merged with Peoplefund.it – the site created by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. The plan was to merge their technology and marketing platforms to create a site with 'its own distinct British and community feel'.
Who's it aimed at? Start-ups with a creative or social side will do best from this new partnership.