FreeSpeakers.org is a pro bono speaker’s bureau for Chicago, Washington D.C., Phoenix, Milwaukee, and Indianapolis. All speakers give free presentations. This means there is no charge, no honorarium, no mileage costs. This service is 100% FREE to groups needing speakers. FreeSpeakers.org is a community service project of Ginny Richardson Public Relations.
From her work in journalism and public relations, Ginny Richardson accumulated a broad network of people. Chairmen from clubs and organizations would call and ask if she knew anyone who gave talks for one of their upcoming meetings. She had always recommended friends and/or clients who were entertaining speakers. These speakers want to teach others, tell of a personal mission, be better known in the community, or perhaps all three.
This very casual list of speakers grew. In 1996, she named it Free Speech and formalized the list. GR-PR employees worked on the Free Speech project and sent many a mailer to clubs, libraries, chambers of commerce, rotaries, churches, etc. Requests started to multiply. So many people were (and are) interested in becoming speakers in the bureau, very high level people, all with experience and willingness to give a talk, unconcerned about the size of the audience or the donated time.
After years of running the bureau out-of-pocket, Ginny decided to assess speakers a one-time membership fee of $35 to join, just to cover the administrative costs. There is still no charge from GR-PR or FreeSpeakers.org to the club or group, nor can the speaker charge the group, not even mileage.
Andy Richardson, vice president at GR-PR, created a sophisticated, interactive website and changed the name to FreeSpeakers.org. We observed the Chicago bureau’s success, so we decided to duplicate it in other cities. Andy and Ginny are extremely proud of the speakers and the wide variety of topics offered. Today, more than two decades later, there are hundreds of free speakers and free topics.