10 Big Crowdfunding Campaigns Making a Difference

The rush to pay it forward

Crowdfunding, for the most part, is an exercise in pure capitalism. Entrepreneurs and resourceful individuals have an idea or product and digitally panhandle for funds, often raising thousands (or millions) of dollars in the process.

But there's a place for charitable giving in the crowdfunding world as well—and it can be lucrative for both nonprofits and individuals in need. CrowdriseFundrazrYouCaring andGiveForward all focus on charitable efforts. 

Given the wide swath of sites focused on doing good—and the policy by some not to rank their campaigns—it's tough to assemble an authoritative Top 10, but after a deep dive of several sites, here are 10 of the biggest we've come across that are making a difference. Their causes run the gamut—from working to fight Ebola to helping the homeless and victims of the Boston Marathon.

Considering now is the season for charitable giving, here is a look at how leading causes are getting the attention of people who want to do good.

#9 Riley Sandler Memorial Foundation

The sudden death of their daughter earlier this year blindsided Ian and Mackenzie Sandler. The 9-year-old suffered respiratory arrest during her last night at camp. The Sandlers channeled their grief by establishing a charity to help promote the health and welfare of children in need—with Riley's name at the forefront. The ongoing campaign has already raised $562,000 from friends, family and a lot of strangers who are captivated by the stories and bunny-eared smiling face of Riley.

"We could never have imagined that we would have over 900 supporters in less than three days," the Sandlers said in a statement on the page. "From our dearest friends to people we have never even met, your words and donations continue to touch and inspire us."