Crowdfunding Campaign Launched to Help Job Seekers

Ken KohutCareer coach Abby "Absolutely Abby" Kohut.

I admit I'm a borderline Shark Tank fanatic. I find myself tuning in to back-to-back episodes, and the next thing I know countless hours have passed and dinner is nowhere near being started. I don't know if I am more fascinated by the creative products and ideas, or the chutzpah of these budding entrepreneurs.

Perhaps that's why I'm so intrigued by crowdfunding. According to Forbes magazine, $5.1 billion was raised last year via this growing industry that helps people raise money to fund their passion, whatever that may be. For some, it's a business or product. Others seek funding for a creative venture or charity. For Abby Kohut, the passion is continuing her Job Search Success Tour into 2015. Her mission is to travel across the country educating and inspiring one million unemployed people. She's already reached 220,000 job seekers in 33 states.A former human resources recruiter, Kohut is better known as Absolutely Abby, the gal ready and willing to tell job seekers the hard truth about what is preventing them from being hired.

She's been pounding the pavement for two years speaking to job search groups at libraries, veterans associations, Y's and colleges across the country. But in order to keep the wheels on her RV rolling, she needs funding--$75,000 to be exact.

Up to this point, Abby has used personal savings (she and her husband sold their house to fund the tour), and sales from her book "Absolutely Abby's 101 Job Search Secrets," teleseminars and private consulting. When she realized she wasn't earning enough to continue the tour, she turned to crowdfunding.

"I would like to believe that the world is going to help with this because it's really important," she said. Luckily she doesn't really need the entire world's support, just 15,000 people willing to donate $5. "That's all it would take, and we'd be done," she said.

While the sharks get a percentage of a business for their investment, campaign funders also get something for their money. In Abby's case, $40 would get your face in a mosaic on the hood of her car--or as the sole $15,000 contributor, your business would be featured on the truck along with other sponsorship perks. Even the $5 contributions receive something: "Gratitude times five!"

Abby knows the odds of meeting her funding goal are slim. According to The Verge, only one in 10 Indiegogo campaigns receive full funding. As of this writing, Abby's campaign, which ends Nov. 24, has raised just over $2,300.

"I feel terribly nervous about funding," she said, adding that the cost of the tour is about $15,000 a month. However, she remains optimistic. Unlike some other crowdfunding platforms, Indiegogo has a fee-based option that allows campaigns that don't reach their goal to keep the funds they raised.

"We'll do what we can with whatever money is pledged," Abby said. "If we raise half the funding, then we'll do half the tour."

I think Abby's campaign is a worthwhile cause. I coach recent college grads that are unemployed or underemployed, and I have several friends and family members who are struggling job seekers. I also like Abby's chutzpah. And for that reason, I'm in.
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