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How to Start a Professional Association

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How to Start a Professional Association. Professional associations provide a resource for people who share a common interest, usually career-related. An association may offer career information, learning opportunities, support and networking. Starting and running a professional organization can be challenging, but rewarding.

Gather together people who have a common interest and vision to start a professional organization. When you form the organization, you charter it. The original members are the charter members.

Come up with a mission statement that broadly communicates the purpose of your organization. Although a mission statement is brief, usually no more than a few sentences, it is often the most difficult thing to write.

Write your association's bylaws. The bylaws are the rules and guidelines of your group. They address membership, official duties, meetings, parliamentary authority, and other guide principles.

Elect officers for the association and establish well-defined duties. Consider operating with a Board of Directors.

Organize the association's membership, one of the biggest jobs. This includes collecting dues and disseminating information. Decide whether an entire membership votes or just the Board of Directors.

Set up a regular schedule of meetings. Most professional associations arrange for a certain number of general membership meetings per year, while the Board of Directors or officers meet more often. An association can increase attendance at membership meetings by holding them in conjunction with a conference.

Arrange for other activities as needed. A website is a good way to keep members informed plus provide information to potential members. Other organizations may use newsletters for this purpose. You may see the need for committees to address specific areas in the professional association.

Tip

Most associations use Robert's Rules of Order as their parliamentary authority.

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