How did you enter the fundraising profession and what do you enjoy most about being a fundraising professional?
During grad school I was studying museum architecture and capital campaigns, which introduced me to this profession called fundraising. Later at an internship at the Guggenheim, I was pulled towards their Individual Giving Department which really ignited my interest in pursuing this as a career.
There have been a variety of milestones in my journey as a fundraiser. I enjoy relationship building including convening opportunities to cultivate a sense of belonging among our stakeholders. Another piece of “enjoyment” is seeing what the resources can do to advance missions.
I don’t just ask for money. I help invite communities in to share the resources they have to offer to create a more equitable and just society.
It’s not about the money. It’s about what the money does, which is to help build movements, advocacy, and address complex social and environmental issues.
I also want to add that in this space, an occupation that talks about money and wealth, it’s important for fundraisers to be self-aware on how we can play a role in helping to dismantle power and achieve economic justice, and not be complicit in perpetuating the non-profit industrial complex. I enjoy every moment of participating in the important work of “decolonizing wealth.” Lots more work to do.
How did you first hear about the CFRE? What made you decide to pursue it?
I heard about the credential many years ago at an AFP conference. I teach fundraising and was about to start a new Director of Development role. I thought the timing was right to get my credential.
Can you share a bit about how you approached the application and meeting the education points requirements?
I started the application many years ago and would update the education section annually. I attended quite a few sessions, workshops, and conferences, in addition to completing a certificate in fundraising management.
How did you determine what you needed to study? What book(s) or other material(s) did you use to prepare? Did you study on your own or with anyone?
I studied on my own and was quite disciplined for those few weeks to study every day. Some folks like a couple of hours a week for several months, but I prefer daily to get the momentum I thrive on.
Altogether, how long did you study for the exam?
I studied for a few weeks before my exam. My exam was cancelled due to Covid-19 and how I chose to reschedule it made for a tight timeline. I don’t recommend this approach, but I have been teaching fundraising for 3.5 years so have a lot of curriculum I’ve developed that is a deep dive into technical skills, so technically I felt like I had been studying for years.
What was the most effective study tool you used?
I think it’s incredibly important to sign up for the practice exams. I used one textbook: Achieving Excellence in Fundraising. I think that is really all you need.
Can you describe how you felt when you entered the testing center versus how you felt when you saw you had passed?
It was truly a unique experience. You’re already a bit nervous and then to take the exam during a public health crisis made it quite eerie and added another layer of seriousness.
When it was over, I felt incredibly relieved I passed.
What would be your advice to other fundraising professionals contemplating whether or not to pursue their CFRE?
We need to increase representation in our profession to better reflect the communities we are serving.
As current CFREs, can we play a bigger role in advocating for more opportunities for folks to engage in the required education and application fee needed to apply? So I guess my advice is for myself and my colleagues to get involved with this discussion at our local AFP chapters.