Crowdfunding campaigns are most often associated with nifty electronic gadgets but in reality, that's only part of the equation that led to an 81 percent increase in money raised during 2012. Collectively, these platforms managed to generate $2.7 billion and fund more than 1 million campaigns last year according to a recent report from Massolution.

Crowdfunding includes donation, reward, lending, equity and royalty models according to the research firm. On an individual scale, 27.4 percent of funds were donated for social causes, 16.9 percent went toward business and entrepreneurship while films and performing arts were responsible for 11.9 percent of the overall revenue pool.

Interestingly enough, more than half of all the money raised came through US-based websites. That's because crowdfunding exploded after President Barack Obama signed the Jumpstart our Business Startups (JOBS) act last year. The law won't go into effect until later this year but that hasn't stopped multiple startups from preparing to launch in the meantime. Collectively, the US and Europe accounted for 95 percent of the crowdfunding market.

Growth isn't expected to slow down anytime soon, either. Massolution predicts that global crowdfunding will exceed $5 billion this year. The forecast is based on the fact that regulatory bodies are continuing to pave the way, making it easier and legal for more countries to get in on the action. They believe that the focus will shift away from social causes, however, as funding new businesses and small firms will generate the most money.