Twice in the last month, I’ve been asked for advice about becoming a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE). I’m sure some of you have thought about what it would take to earn this designation. I thought I would share my experience.
Applying for the CFRE is actually very easy and user friendly. Visit www.cfre.org and create a log-in. From there, you can begin working on your application. I recommend doing this anytime you think about it. You can create a profile and compile the data you need whether or not you plan to apply soon. It doesn’t matter if you never actually apply. You can come back to it and track each conference right after you get back. This system will give you a clear idea of how close you are to meeting the requirements.
It’s a bit of a myth that you need those little CFRE credit sheets from every conference you attend. As long as the session was sponsored by a reputable organization (Association of Fundraising Professionals, Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, Academic Impressions or others like them), you probably will just need the session details. You will need the title of each session, the name of sponsoring institution, and the date. Due to a recent change, all volunteer or service work will be counted under “Education” now. You also get points if you have an advanced degree.
You will also need to produce evidence of professional practice (the time you have been a professional fundraiser) and professional performance, which can include dollars raised, management projects and communications projects.
For dollars raised, if you are a campaign manager or annual giving, you get credit for dollars raised under your management. I was the campaign director for a completed building campaign, so I got credit for those dollars since I ran that campaign from the beginning.
For the management projects, I submitted an inter-office “white paper” I wrote that outlined a plan to improve the way that development officers requested written proposals and recorded building naming opportunities. These projects required coordination across multiple divisions including advancement services, major gift officers, executive officers and communications staff.
The CFRE software assigns the points as you enter the information and shows you clearly when you have a “green light” on a particular section. When you have been approved to apply on all sections, you will need to come up with a plan for paying the Exam Fee. Currently, for initial certification, the fee is $875. If you are a member of a participating organization (like AFP), it’s only $700. Most organizations will cover the cost if you express the interest early and include it in your budget request for that fiscal year.
After you apply, your materials will be evaluated and if all is well, you will receive an "Approval to Test" notification. That test is a beast of a unique sort though, so I’ll save the information about the CFRE exam for another post.
Jessica Cloud, CFRE
I've been called the Tasmanian Devil of fundraising and I'm here to talk shop with you.