Crowdfunding has helped get numerous ground-breaking projects off the ground - a giant Lionel Richie head, a Pi-shaped pie dish and the biggest crowdfunding success of all time, £25 million raised for craft beer company, BrewDog, included.

Crowdfunding has solidified into a viable option to get business ideas off the ground. The democratic nature of this funding route means that the most popular ideas rise to the top, while less exciting proposals sink to the bottom.  

In 2017, £217.7 million was raised by UK crowdfunding platforms such as Crowdcube, Seedrs and SyndicateRoom.

But there is an abundance of different crowdfunding websites - which should you choose? Each site differs a little in its specialisms, and what kind of perks or returns are offered upon investment.  

Here, we list some of the most exciting sites for potential entrepreneurs.

Read next: How to run a successful crowdfunding campaign

RateSetter


RateSetter is a peer-to-peer lending site offering the public the chance to invest in households and businesses. So far, £2.9 billion has been lent via the site. 

If you wanted a personal loan, for example, you would incur interest rates of 3.9% for a loan of £5,000 over one year. The conditions are flexible - you can repay early in part or full without incurring fees, and it's fast - the money can be in your account within 24 hours. 

You can apply easily to get a quote. 

Best for: Safe investments

SyndicateRoom


UK crowdfunding platform, SyndicateRoom, aims to connect investors with highly vetted UK startups. This means that your startup will need to fit some strict criteria, but it takes only two minutes to find out whether your startup qualifies.

The site says that most startups raise between £100,000 and £500,000, and claims these figures, which might give you an indication whether this is the right site for you:

Average pre-money valuation: £4,069,218.08
Average round (Minimum Target Amount): £590,541.28
Average round size (with overfunding): £982,904.04

Best for: Serious startups

Kickstarter


Kickstarter is geared towards creative endeavours, particularly projects involving ‘Art, Comics, Crafts, Dance, Design, Fashion, Film & Video, Food, Games, Journalism, Music, Photography, Publishing, Technology, and Theater’, according to the website.

So far, 13.9 million people have pledged more than $3.39 billion via the platform.

You will set a funding goal, and will forfeit any funds raised if it’s not met. If it is, you’ll pay 3 percent of profits to Kickstarter as well as a further 3-5% to the payment processing.

You can set your campaign time between 1-60 days, but the site recommends a period of 30 days in which to raise cash.

While donors can be promised exclusive gifts in return for their contribution, you can’t offer any stakes or ‘shares’ in successful projects.

Most funded projects: Pebble Time smartwatches ($20,338,986), Coolest Coolers ($13,285,226), Kingdom Death: Monster 1.5 ($12,393,139)

Most funded app: Fluent Forever ($587,785), language learning app

Best for: Creative innovators

Indiegogo


Indiegogo is more squarely targeted at entrepreneurs than Kickstarter, with the website divided into three categories: Tech and Innovation, Creative Projects and Community Projects. The site also boasts a marketplace where you can sell successfully funded products.

On Indiegogo, you can collect your funds even if you don’t reach your target, but the company skims 5 percent off the top of any profits you make as well as additional credit card fees.

Indiegogo has raised over $1 billion since it launched in 2007.

The platform has also partnered with MicroVentures, offering an equity investment option where small businesses are connected with angel investors in either early or late stage funding. Angel investors must be willing to pledge a minimum of $100. Since 2011, there have been 160 investments and over $100 million raised on the site.

Most successful projects: Flow Hive ($13,289,097),  a beehive where the beekeeper can extract honey without disturbing the bees; Ubuntu Edge ($12,814,196), a ‘high-concept’ smartphone

Best for: Innovative product ideas

Patreon


Patreon is different from most other crowdfunding sites in that operates on a subscription-based model rather than a one-off bulk payment. It’s primarily aimed at finding support for typically underfunded creative producers, like writers, artists, musicians and podcasters. In the words of the site, ‘Creators, come get paid.’ A great way to monetise that side-hustle.

The site has allowed creators to collect over $150 million in funding, and claims that the average patron gives more monthly than to subscriptions like Netflix and Amazon Prime.

5 percent of funds raised goes to the site, and another 5 percent on transaction fees.

Top funded project: The Chapo Trap House podcast counts 22,095 patrons and receives $98,672 in funding per month

Best for: Creative producers

GoFundMe


The most casual amongst crowdfunding sites, it adopts an informal tone for generally small-scale, personal or charity projects, rather than potential money-spinning innovations.

It’s had some bad press in recent years with the rise of privileged young people using it to fund their travel plans. Although it has funded far more sincere causes like raising money for obscenely pricey medical bills or for charity causes.

More than $5 billion has been raised on GoFundMe from over 50 million donors.

Unlike most other crowdfunding sites, GoFundMe is free to use, sidestepping any platform fees.

Best for: Millennials ‘on a journey’ (just kidding)

Rockethub


Rockethub is a platform aimed at novice entrepreneurs hoping to get their business idea off the ground. You have to pitch your business or product idea to them and - if accepted - will be provided with options on how best to raise funding, as well as the opportunity to use their ELEQUITY Funding™ platform to raise capital.

One business raising money from investors on the site is Scotland-based craft beer company, Brewdog, who have won the investment of 46,000 ‘equity punks’ so far.

Seedrs


Billed as an equity crowdfunding site, Seedrs is most definitely aimed at potentially lucrative business ideas. The investor network includes angel investors and venture capitalists alongside your friends and family. Businesses on the site range from idea-stage startups to publicly traded companies. Investments are uncapped but will buy the investor voting shares in your company.

The site has racked up over £355 million in funds raised.

Seedrs Alumni businesses now appear on a database on the site for investors to buy shares in.

If your campaign is successful, you’ll pay 6 percent of total funds, 0.5 percent payment processing fee and a one-off payment of £2,500 in admin fees.

Best for: Access to angel investors and venture capitalists

Crowdcube


Crowdcube is a UK based crowdfunding platform aiming to provide funding for business pitches. The site provides expert advice on how to deliver a well-polished pitch, communications plan and realistic target, before you launch the fundraiser on the site.

It has raised over £400 million so far for business ideas, and counts 521,911 registered site members who donate average investments of £1,430 per project. Crowdcube takes a cut of 7 percent on funds successfully raised as well as payment processing fees.

The stats are promising, with an average of £670,000 raised for each project.

Most successful project: To date, the largest amount of money raised was by Brewdog, the craft beer brand, which raised £10 million on the platform.  

Best for: Business mentoring

Crowdfunder


Crowdfunder.co.uk aims to match entrepreneurs with a conscience with potential investors. It has raised over £50 million for projects across the UK. The site is particularly geared towards endeavours that promise social value such as community work or projects benefitting society or the environment.

The site also has a number of in-depth guides about how to successfully launch and promote a crowdfunding project.

If your project raises money, 8 percent will be deducted for platform, payment processing and VAT fees.

Best for: Conscientious entrepreneurs

Lending Club


Lending Club provides loans to small businesses. You can receive personal loans of up to $40,000 and business loans between $5,000-$300,000 on which the investor will make between 5.5-7.5 percent in interest.

To be eligible for a business loan you must have been in business for more than 12 months, bring in at least $50,000 annually with no recent bankruptcies. The terms are more lenient than most online lenders, and unusual businesses are more likely to get funded than from a bank.

To date, more than $28 billion in loans have been granted through Lending Club, and 95 percent of users would recommend a family member or friend to use the service.  

Alternatively, Funding Circle is a peer to peer lending service that has provided over £3.4 billion to 35,623 UK businesses. Businesses can be granted loans between £5,000-£1 million with 3 percent rates per year and no early repayment fees. The bar is higher for this site though - on average, businesses granted loans have been around for at least 8 years with an annual turnover of £420,000.

Best for: Competitive loans for established businesses

AngelList


‘Where the world meets startups.’ Ever wanted to apply to a job at a startup? AngelList allows you to apply for 77,441. With one application. This site is more suited to those looking to develop their careers in startups (something to consider if your idea doesn't pan out).

You can also invest in startups by contributing to private, single-deal venture capital funds led by seasoned technology investors, although it’s less clear from the site how to sign up as a startup seeking investment.

Through the site, $765 million has been invested in 2115 startups.  

Best for: Plan B if your startup idea bombs