The times they are a changing, especially when it comes to raising money. With the rise of the so-called sharing economy – wherein people rely on each other for goods and services rather than traditional merchants – so has the explosion in people crowdfunding. The practice involves people setting up fundraising pages on different crowdfunding websites, allowing them to invite friends, family and the entire planet to donate to their cause or project. From massive medical bills to Hollywood films, crowdfunding has made many things happen without the use of a traditional lender – turning the financial world upside down.

Crowdfunding was first introduced in 2006 but did not really kick into high gear until websites like Kickstarter, GoFundMe, Caring Bridge, and Indiegogo launched. These aren’t the only crowdfunding websites out there by any means, but they are some of the major players. In 2013 alone, the industry grew to over $5.1 billion worldwide. Even more interesting was a May 2014 report stating that during just one month, over $60,000 was raised every hour via global crowdfunding websites.

It’s important to keep in mind that some crowdfunding platforms are different than others, since there are so many things to raise cash for. Some crowdfunding projects offer incentives, equity or other rewards for donating to the project; this is especially true for startup companies looking to fund development of their product. Others are strictly charitable, where people simply donate out of goodwill. However, not every donation is tax deductible – if this is important to you, make sure to do your research before typing in those credit card numbers.