Nicoleta Radoi became a CFRE in early 2021. Below, she provides an overview of her CFRE journey.
You currently work in fundraising at a university. Why do you think it is important for university fundraising professionals to hold a fundraising certification?
I think the certification is important for any fundraising professional, regardless of the profile of the organization they work for.
Can you describe the moment when you decided you would pursue your CFRE?
I am new to the North American market. I moved to Canada five years ago to do my M.A. After graduating and wanting to get back into the job market, I realized the CFRE certification is highly regarded here. It took me two years to actually complete the certification from the time I decided to pursue it.
How long did it take you to complete the application?
I had all the prerequisites in place luckily and putting together the application was a straightforward exercise—a week max.
How did you go about earning the needed education points?
I have always taken professional development seriously and keep abreast of seminars and workshops through the Association of Fundraising Professionals, CASE, Academic Impressions, etc., and usually attend one conference a year. It turned out I didn’t have to make up for too many points.
When it came time to study, about how many hours did you spend?
I did not pass the exam on the first round. But the time I passed, I dedicated far more time to study. I would say I took around 10 to 12 hours per domain on average of self-study. I also took the CFRE Refresher Course through AFP Toronto and had a couple of study groups I took part in. For a month leading up to the exam, I had two to three days a week that were dedicated to CFRE studying.
Which books and resources did you use to study?
Achieving Excellence in Fundraising, AFP CFRE Refresher Course, Lilly Family School of Philanthropy Podcast, CFRE Practice Exam, Quizlet.
Which of these was the most valuable?
They all complement each other and offered different perspectives of engaging with the domain competencies.
Did your employer support you during your CFRE journey by either contributing to the application cost or providing support in another format?
Yes, my employer was supportive and covered the exam cost.
Did you feel nervous about sitting for the exam and if so how did you combat any feelings of anxiety?
I was nervous—it is not an easy exam! Support and encouragement from my study group helped, also having a good rest the night before of the exam—plus some jumping jacks before entering the exam to release body tension, my personal trick! Positive self-talk as an ongoing practice throughout the study experience, too.
How did you find the exam-taking experience?
It is a long intense four hours. I made a point of taking breaks every hour to have some water and stretch my legs. I used the whole four hours and used the flag option to review thoroughly the answers I was not sure about.
When you learned you passed, who were the first people you told and what was their reaction?
My husband and my boss. They were both equally thrilled!