Application requirements for Initial Certification

Applications for Initial Certification require candidates to document information in three categories:  Education, Professional Practice and Professional Performance.  The application works on a point system.  Candidates must document a minimum number of points in each of the three categories in order to be approved to take the CFRE examination.  Your online application at My CFRE will automatically calculate points for you.

Your application must be approved before you can be scheduled for the CFRE exam.  For information on application deadlines, fees, and exam dates, click here.

If you require special accommodations for testing, please refer to our Policies and indicate your need for special accommodations when you are filling out your application.

*Please note: application requirements have changed for 2016. For an overview of these changes, please click here.  For frequently asked questions about these changes, please click here.  

Minimum points required in each application category for Initial Certification are:

EDUCATION:  80 points (must be within the past 5 years).  Education includes continuing education on fundraising topics (including conference attendance), academic degrees, teaching on fundraising topics, authoring on fundraising topics and service learning through volunteer experience.  Points are awarded as follows:

  • Continuing education:  1 point for each hour spent attending educational conference sessions or workshops.  2 points for each hour spent teaching educational conference sessions or workshops using previously developed material.  3 points for each hour spent teaching educational conference sessions or workshops using newly developed material.
  • Authoring:  5 points per published article (500 words or more; self-published material is ineligible).  15 points per book chapter.  30 points per book.
  • Academic degrees:  5 points for an Associates degree.  10 points each for a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctoral degree.  For Initial Certification, all academic degrees may be counted, even if the degree was earned more than 5 years ago.
  • Service Learning:  2 points per year for each ongoing volunteer leadership role. 1 point per year for each instance of general volunteer service. (a maximum of 10 will be counted). Volunteer work must be separate from one’s employment or contractual obligations with a given organisation.

A maximum of 10 points of nonfundraising-related continuing education may also be counted, providing that the nonfundraising-related content develops skills that will help the individual become a more proficient fundraising professional.  Sessions on general leadership skills, time management, etc., are examples of nonfundraising-related content that might be applicable.

PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE:  36 points (must be within the past 5 years).  1 month of employment = 1 point.  Only 1 month will be awarded for any given month regardless of the number of employers or clients.

Candidates for the CFRE credential must be or have been employed full-time as a professional member of a fundraising staff or as a fundraising consultant to nonprofit organisations; at least 50% of their job duties and responsibilities must consist of fundraising activities, resource development, and/or the management of fund development which results in generation of philanthropic support.

Candidates who are or have been employed half-time (defined by CFRE International as 50% FTE or greater) may also qualify, providing 100% of their  job duties and responsibilities consist of fundraising activities, resource development, and/or the management of fund development which results in generation of philanthropic support.

Consultants must submit a client list for the time period claimed as a consultant.

*For professionals with less than 5 years (60 points) of employment in fundraising, completion of an academic degree in fundraising and/or an intensive certificate programme in fundraising is highly recommended.

PROFESSIONAL PERFORMANCE:  55 points (must be within the past 5 years)

Candidates can earn points in any of the following three areas, or a combination thereof.  It is not necessary to document points in each of the categories.

  • Actual funds raised:  1 point = Equivalent raised in candidate’s local currency of USD 25,000. Fundraisers in non-OECD member countries will receive 1 additional point for each point of Actual Funds Raised.
  • Communications projects:  5 points for each project with outcomes that had a measurable impact on the success of fundraising for the organisation.
  • Management projects:  5 points for each project with outcomes that had a measurable impact on the success of fundraising for the organisation.

Questions about the CFRE application process?

See our FAQs or contact us at succeed@cfre.org.