CFRE® – Your Confident Choice for Fundraising Planning & Execution

You want to be confident that you are hiring the best person for your team who practices ethical fundraising and knows best practices. You want an employee committed to the fundraising profession for the long-term.

What a CFRE brings

When a CFRE is part of your team, organizations and donors are served with a higher level of knowledge and accountability to reach philanthropic goals. With certified knowledge of the importance of relationship building as well as ethics and accountability, a CFRE will work to grow your organization’s long-term sustainability through exceptional donor service.

A CFRE has successfully demonstrated competence, credibility, and commitment to philanthropic fundraising by successfully completing CFRE International’s multi-part certification process which is accredited by the American National Standards Institute.

The CFRE process is:

  • An application documenting Education, Professional Practice, Professional Performance, and Service to the philanthropic sector
  • Achievement of a passing score on the CFRE examination
  • Regular re-certification in three-year cycles

A Practice-based Assessment

Unlike certificate programs offered by educational institutions, nonprofits, and for-profit firms, CFRE certification is based in fundraising practice.

It is not an educational program to teach individuals how to raise funds. Rather, it is an experience-based assessment process that measures the candidate’s knowledge and skills in best practices in ethical philanthropic fundraising.

The application requirements are met through a point system. Candidates must document a verifiable minimum number of points in each of three categories in order to be approved to write the CFRE examination.

  • Education – including academic degrees, qualified continuing education (attended or taught), and authoring
  • Professional Practice – verifiable employment as a professional member of a fundraising staff or as a fundraising consultant to nonprofit organizations
  • Professional Performance – verifiable funds raised, communications and/or management projects completed with outcomes that had a measurable impact on the success of fundraising for the organization

Once the application has been filled out, the candidate selects an exam testing window and submits their application for review and approval prior to being authorized to write the CFRE examination.

The CFRE Examination

It assesses mastery of knowledge required to perform the breadth of professional fundraising responsibilities.

Questions are based on what fundraisers actually do every day and are framed against the broader context of professional knowledge that is considered best practice internationally. This body of knowledge is collected by a professional testing agency using a detailed survey called a Job Analysis. The Job Analysis is updated every five years to assure the CFRE exam and the eligibility requirements reflect current fundraising practice.

The CFRE examination is a practice-based exam that assesses candidate mastery of the six core knowledge areas of fundraising considered requisite for individuals with at least five years of professional fundraising experience.

These knowledge areas and their proportionate weight in the current version of the CFRE exam are:

  • Current and Prospective Donor Research (16% of total scored items)
  • Securing the Gift (19% of total scored items)
  • Relationship Building (27% of total scored items)
  • Volunteer Involvement (8% of total scored items)
  • Leadership and Management (18% of total scored items)
  • Ethics and Accountability (11% of total scored items)

The CFRE exam consists of 200 multiple choice questions with 175 questions counting toward the candidate’s score. The other 25 questions are being tested to make sure they are psychometrically sound and do not count toward the score.

A Durable Credential – the 3 year recertification cycle

Once initial certification has been awarded, a CFRE must recertify every three years to maintain the CFRE credential.

The recertification application requires the CFRE to document information in the same three categories as the initial application: Education, Professional Practice, and Professional Performance.

The requirement for ongoing assessment to recertify and maintain the CFRE credential means employers, colleagues, and donors can be confident a fundraiser holding the CFRE credential has current demonstrated mastery of best practices in ethical fundraising.

Visit the CFRE Job Center to Recruit a CFRE for your fundraising team!