Lisa Ramsell, CFRE, FCIM, began her fundraising career in New Zealand in 2003. See the role earning her CFRE played in an international career move.


What is your current fundraising role and what are you responsible for?
I am the Head of Development at the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). I am responsible for organizational giving to the RSC, including the global corporate partnership portfolio, national and international education partnerships, giving from trusts and foundations, and commercial hires.

How did you first hear about the CFRE?
At a Fundraising Institute of New Zealand Conference.

What led you to decide to pursue earning your CFRE?
I was planning to move from New Zealand to the UK and decided CFRE certification would be valuable to obtain as I was moving into a more competitive job market.

I believe holding my CFRE was advantageous in helping me secure a role in a new country. When I started planning to relocate from New Zealand, I decided I would benefit from having some internationally-recognized certifications so I worked towards obtaining the CFRE and Chartered Marketer status.

I’m sure this benefited me in the shortlisting process, particularly when I was unable to meet the recruitment agency in-person as my recruitment was all done via email and Skype.

It also gave me confidence during the interview process to be able to talk about the process of achieving my CFRE and the content covered.

For anyone about to sit for the CFRE exam, what advice would you give about preparing/studying? 
Try and find a study buddy. I found this invaluable to keep myself motivated during the self-study period.

We are often asked how long it takes to study for the exam. While everyone is different, what did you personally find to be the ideal length of time to study before sitting for the exam?
I allowed a three-month study period in advance of the exam.

The CFRE requires recertification every three years and a large piece of recertification is continually participating in professional development courses. What role do you think ongoing professional development courses have played in your success as a fundraising professional?
To progress in our careers we need to keep learning, to be aware of new trends, to share and learn from other’s experiences, and therefore I think it’s vital to keep up with our professional development.

I am sure the professional development courses I have completed regularly over the years have had a direct impact on my ability to secure particular fundraising positions and successfully grow fundraising income for those organisations.

What would you say has been the greatest professional advantage of earning your CFRE?
It gives you increased confidence in your overall ability and knowledge as a fundraising professional.

It ensures you have a broad base of fundraising expertise, despite the particular area of fundraising you may currently be working in.

Professionally, I feel it has had an impact on my ability to secure fundraising roles, giving my future employers peace of mind in my fundraising ability and providing them with assurance during the recruitment process.