Why Do Professionals Join Up?

The Professional Associations Research Network (PARN) is dedicated to the development of the professions, increasing understanding and raising awareness of issues relating to professionals, professionalism, and professional bodies through research and networking. PARN’s work focuses on ethics and standards, CPD, governance, member relations and internationalisation. In PARN’s International Benchmarking Survey 2009 all professional associations who participated said that a statutory requirement to be a member would increase membership !!! However, as debate about what it means to be a professional in the 21st century and how access to the professions might be made ‘fairer’ continues, PARN’s ‘Why Join a Professional Body?’ research explores the expectations of professionals and the strategies that help professional associations to position themselves as essential to both professionals and their employers. The 2010 research will analyse what successful professional bodies are doing to retain and increase their membership and how you can learn from their experiences. It will investigate interesting practice around their ability to persuade employers and professionals to recognise the benefits of membership and demonstrate how you can adapt it to your organisation. The research will culminate in a final written report including in-depth case studies of successful professional associations, and an analysis of the different strategies professional bodies use to attract members and an evaluation of their strengths and weaknesses. Research Project Leader Sarah Ellis stated, “PARN is very excited to be carrying out this research. We think understanding why professionals choose to join a professional body when there is no compulsion to do so will help us and our members understand essential aspects of both recruiting and retaining members.” This project will run until November 2010, and professional associations are invited to sign up as research participants. Anyone interested in learning more about this project should contact Sarah Ellis at or 0117 929 4515