1) How did you enter the fundraising profession and in what year did you begin working in fundraising?
Michael: I volunteered with my advancement office during college. That sparked a knack and interest for fundraising.
My first fundraising job was in 2012 for a health charity working in special events.
2) How did you first hear about the CFRE certification?
Michael: The development director in my first job was a CFRE but I didn’t take note of it or professional education until my current role where my supervisor is also a CFRE.
3) What made you decide to pursue becoming a CFRE?
Michael: I attended AFP ICON in 2018 and met a lot of CFREs, even people serving on the Board of Directors from my local AFP Chapter, and sat in on CFRE International’s presentation about the process.
The CFREs I met had roles in organizations I aspired to work for.
The presentation expressed the confidence one may gain in their skills when attaining CFRE designation and the confidence donors can have when working with CFREs at an organization.
I knew then that becoming a CFRE was a goal I wanted to accomplish.
4) Did you speak with your boss about your interest in becoming a CFRE? If so, were they supportive? If so, in what way(s)?
Michael: My supervisor and my development director were both supportive. My supervisor shared about the six domains, scoring, and study materials.
My director budgeted for trainings for me and she checked in with me throughout the process, from application to test date!
5) Did you speak to any other CFREs during your CFRE journey for advice? If so, what was the best advice you received?
Michael: I spoke with numerous CFREs! I was so grateful they offered notes, books, flashcards, and advice!
The most consistent and valuable advice I received when approaching the test is to find the most donor-centric/best practice/”tried & true” answers that apply to work at any organization (big or small, regardless of sector) and re-read the exam questions to find words that may lead towards an answer (first, always, capital campaign VS annual giving).
Above all, trust your gut!
6) When it came to studying, how long did you study and what resources were most helpful to you?
Michael: I participated in two different certificate programs at Villanova University and at La Salle University that provided workbooks and presentations that I used during six weeks of studying.
I used the CFRE practice exam to provide a benchmark and to zero in on domains I needed to focus on.
I borrowed flashcards and comprehensive books from CFREs in my chapter. I was connected to a CFRE study group online which was great because they hosted weekly calls on each domain, had CFRE speakers share their advice, and organized a shared drive for resources!
7) Many people believe the CFRE is a certification to pursue later in their fundraising career. What do you see as the advantage of earning it earlier?
Michael: I knew the CFRE designation would showcase my competencies as a fundraiser, especially in organizations where titles and degrees may have more weight.
It was easier for me to study being younger rather down the line where I may have learned good and bad habits too specific to my roles rather than the best practices the exam calls for. I’ve done enough job-hopping to gain experience that I knew it was time to invest long-term in a role/organization.
I’m ready to move onwards and upwards professionally and am even more confident with my CFRE designation!
We appreciate your wisdom and viewpoint, Michael! Thank you for sharing it with us.