Founded in 2001, CFRE International is an independent nonprofit organisation whose sole mission is dedicated to setting standards in philanthropy through a valid and reliable certification process for fundraising professionals.

Between 1981 and 1996, two leading professional associations had their own separate certification programs.  The Association for Healthcare Philanthropy offered the CAHP and the Association of Fundraising Professionals, formerly the National Society of Fund Raising Executives (NSFRE), offered the CFRE.

In 1997 for the betterment of the entire profession, those two organisations merged their programs to form the independent CFRE Professional Certification Board, now CFRE International.  Following the creation of CFRE International, other leading philanthropic associations joined in support of the program.

In 2009 the CFRE program was granted accreditation by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). NCCA, the accrediting arm of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence, grants accreditation to a select group of organisations that demonstrate compliance with the NCCA Standards for the Accreditation of Certification Programs.  The accreditation process includes a comprehensive and independent expert analysis of the certification programme against the highest industry standards.

In 2013, the CFRE credential became available worldwide as the global standard for the fundraising profession.