Imagine being in contact with 100,000 like-minded people who each want to invest £10 in your business, project or venture online. That’s the basis of crowdfunding – literally sourcing funds from a crowd.

The idea is young, but it’s rapidly growing in popularity. The success stories are racking up too. According to Nesta, crowdfunding raised $1.5 billion for businesses in 2011, and in 2012 one project raised over $1 million.

 

It has been described as ‘democratic finance’, allowing businesses and projects of all forms and sizes access to money while bypassing traditional banking institutions. It is an attractive route in economically difficult times when banks aren’t lending freely. But it isn’t all about the money – crowdfunding is also about building and benefiting community.