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Elizabeth Fitzgerald

Elizabeth Fitzgerald


4 Tips for Getting Your CFRE

As a professional fundraiser working to advance your career and establish your expertise, earning your Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation may be your next best step.  Founded in 2001, CFRE International is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to setting standards in philanthropy through a valid and reliable certification process for fundraisers.

Those seeking positions may see “CFRE preferred” in job postings.  The CFRE exam assesses mastery of core knowledge areas of fundraising for individuals with at least 5 years of professional experience. It is not an easy test.  Passing it shows others that you have a strong body of nonprofit knowledge. Here are some tips to help your success:

Tip # 1: Start your application now.

Meeting application requirements can take time, but you can save your application as a work-in-progress on the CFRE website.  Working on meeting requirements along the way will show you where to focus your professional efforts and which accomplishments to track and document.

Tip #2: Personalize your study document.

The CFRE guide lists 6 bodies of knowledge, with multiple subheadings:

  • Relationship Building
  • Securing the Gift
  • Leadership and Management
  • Current and Prospective Donor Research
  • Ethics, Accountability, and Professionalism
  • Volunteer Involvement

Rearrange the 6 main headings by their proportionate weight on the exam to know where to place your focus.

Tip #3: Know yourself.

Identify the areas you need to strengthen.  Copy key phrases into searches and skim relevant articles and resources.  Then, copy new knowledge into your personalized study document for further review.

Tip #4: Learn the “Canadian” language of nonprofits.

The CFRE website recommends the book Strategic Fund Development by Canadian author Simone P. Joyaux, ACFRE for exam prep because it addresses several of the exam’s core topics in detail.  If you live and work in the U.S., you may find some of the exam’s terminology unfamiliar, but Joyaux’s book will be a helpful orientation to its language and concepts.

Your CFRE certification is a well-respected voice, speaking to your credibility, commitment, and skills. Start your application today.

By the Numbers

Consider the recruitment opportunities for your organization that these stats indicate:

  • About 63 million Americans (25% of the adult population) volunteer their time, talents, and energy to making a difference.
  • These people spend an average of 52 hours/year volunteering.
  • 72% of volunteers are involved with only one organization, while 18.3% are involved with two.

Random interesting stats presented monthly from various sources.