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Crowdfunding is the process of raising money to fund what is typically a project or business venture through many donors using an online platform, such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo and Crowdfunder. The fundraising window is usually finite -- 90 days, for instance -- and the fees and rules vary across platforms.

How to: Crowdfunding is typically done through an online platform that allows the fundraiser to set up a public campaign for accepting donations. The campaign will advertise details such as the nature of the project or venture, the amount of money the company is hoping to raise and the campaign’s fundraising deadline. People can donate a specified amount through the fundraising campaign’s website and often receive some sort of acknowledgement or reward in return for their donation.         

Applications of crowdfunding: This can range from charitable and educational projects to creative projects -- like funding films -- as well as supporting scalable businesses. Crowdfunding platforms each tend to cater to specific categories, such as Kickstarter which focuses on creative projects or Crowdfunder, an equity-based platform which is used for businesses looking to raise investment capital.