One of the key markers of any profession is the existence of a credible certification program built upon an identified body of knowledge. The Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) credential provides development professionals with a recognizable demonstration of personal and professional achievement and commitment to the field.
The CFRE designation is a fantastic way to demonstrate your dedication to your career, open new doors in the development field, and enhance your credibility. The CFRE credential demonstrates an individual's mastery of the standards set for core knowledge and skills required of fundraising executives after five years of experience. This practice-based designation requires demonstration of having met these standards through both an application and a written examination. While the CFRE is not a part of AFP, AFP strongly encourages its members to certify.
- All candidates must complete a written application that works on a point system. A minimum number of points in each of four areas must be documented. Those areas include: Professional Practice; Education; Performance; and Service. To apply for the CFRE, you must have three or more years of professional fundraising experience, documentation of professional performance and continuing education, and service through community organizations.
- Many current CFREs have said the hardest part of getting certified is not the test: it is the application, which requires the applicant to report on the previous three years of job performance, continuing education, and other items. Keeping track of all of those binders and folders you get can be difficult, but it’s easier than remembering that conference you attended two years ago!
- Whether you’re planning to take the CFRE in a few months or a few years, it can be a wise strategy to start your application today. After you finish a conference or course, add it to your application. When you’re ready to get certified, your application will be nearly complete!
- Upon making application to the program, candidates agree to adhere to the Donor Bill of Rights and the CFRE Program's Accountability Standards, designed to promote integrity and ethical behavior of fundraising executives.
- To take your CFRE exam within the June 5 – June 27 testing window, your application must be postmarked by April 7.
- To take your CFRE exam within the August 28 – September 19 testing window, your application must be postmarked by July 31.
- To take your CFRE exam within the October 30 – November 21 testing window, your application must be postmarked by August 28.
Candidates must achieve the passing score on a standardized written examination consisting of 225 multiple-choice questions. The exam is a four-hour exam covering knowledge from the following six core knowledge areas: Prospect Identification, Solicitation, Donor Relations, Volunteerism, Management, and Stewardship. Exams are given at various locations around North American and Australia throughout the year. Three exam forms are available: one for U.S., one for Canadian residents, and one for residents of Australia. While it is not an easy exam, CFRE reports that 76% of first-time test takers pass the exam and earn their certification. It is a computerized, non-adaptive test, and you will receive a preliminary score before you leave the test center.
Because fundraising is a dynamic field and because certification attests to a professional's competency, certification is awarded for a three-year period. A new application updating your Professional Practice, Education, Performance, and Service is required in order to continue to be certified.