About FreeSpeakers.org – from humble beginnings
FreeSpeakers.org is the #1 source for pro bono speakers in Chicago. All speakers present programs at no cost. Nada. Nothing. Zip. There is no charge to any group. Ever. Not from the speaker and not from us.
FreeSpeakers.org is the solution for Chambers of Commerce, libraries, Rotary and Kiwanis groups, clubs, retirement communities, churches, etc., who need and want speakers for their programs but who have limited (or no) budgets.
Speakers pay a modest annual fee to be members of FreeSpeakers.org. What’s in it for them? Certainly not money. They want to teach others, tell of a personal mission and/or be better known in the community. The bennie for all speakers is that getting out in the community and in front of audiences can lead to new clients, new friends and new experiences.
A little history
The founder of FreeSpeakers.org is Ginny Richardson of Chicago. From her work at a newspaper, she had accumulated a vast network of people including program chairmen from organizations. These folks would call and ask if she knew anyone who gave talks for one of their upcoming meetings. Ginny always recommended friends and/or colleagues who had a good topic.
This very casual list of speakers grew. In the spring of 1996, Ginny sent many a mailer to clubs, chambers, Rotary and Kiwanis groups, churches, etc. Requests began to multiply.
The name “Free” was (and remains) sincere. No one made a dime including Ginny, the speaker, the group – no one. She continued her work on this community service project, because she got a bang out of it.
In the summer of 1996, a Chicago Tribune writer heard about the speaker’s bureau. Her story – “Cheap talk for area groups” – ran on the front page of one of the Trib’s sections, and within days, the little speaker’s bureau exploded.
What is surprising is the number of people 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, it was decided to assess speakers a modest membership fee to cover administrative costs. There is still no charge from FreeSpeakers.org to the club or group, nor can the speaker charge the group, not even mileage.
FreeSpeakers.org became the top pro bono speaker’s bureau in Chicago. It is a labor of love for Ginny and her team, and one and all are proud of the speakers and the wide variety of topics offered.
A year ago it was decided to bring the FreeSpeakers.org concept to other U.S. cities. If it works so well in Chicago, why not Milwaukee, Indianapolis, etc.? Stay tuned and watch us grow!
We provide free speakers in the following cities:
If you would like to request FreeSpeakers.org in your city, visit the new city contact form.