Can you describe the moment you decided you would pursue becoming a CFRE?
It was at the age of 19 after hearing Alice Ferris and Jim Anderson speak at an AFP Arizona Chapter event.
Not only did they impress me with their fundraising knowledge but with their true commitment to our sector. When I began researching what it meant to become a Certified Fund Raising Executive, I knew that it would be the next best step in my career when I was ready.
More importantly, I want to add value to not only the organizations that I work for but more importantly to the donors that I serve.
By becoming a CFRE you show your true commitment to the non-profit sector, ethics, and accountability in all the work you do in your communities.
How long had you been in fundraising when you made the decision?
I was in fundraising for nearly 10 years. Entering a new role as a Vice President of Advancement with a very supportive organization made it the perfect time to get my certification.
Some people think that if they’re successfully raising funds without being a CFRE they don’t need the certification. For people in that situation, what would you say are the benefits of going through the CFRE process?
Of course, you can be successful in raising funds without being a CFRE. With this certification, you are adding value and trust to your relationships with donors.
You will prove your body of fundraising knowledge, that you are committed to fundraising as a long-term career choice, and you will provide confidence to your board, employer, grant makers, and individual donors that you are dedicated to ethical fundraising practices.
You requested to speak to a CFRE Ambassador to assist with your CFRE journey. How often did you speak to the CFRE Ambassador? What was the most important role the CFRE Ambassador had in keeping you moving towards your goal of becoming a CFRE?
I spoke with my CFRE Ambassador for a total of three hours. He assured me I had done the studying and was ready to take the test.
Which exam preparation tools did you use and which ones did you find to be most valuable?
To begin my preparation, I took the CFRE Practice Exam to determine the domains of focus. Through this exam, I knew that I was fully prepared in three domains and would need adequate time for the rest.
At this point, I began listening to “Achieving Excellence in Fundraising” via Audible (It’s free with an Amazon Prime subscription). Also, I began attending two study groups per week to learn more about the domains.
Next, I got “Achieving Excellence in Fundraising” from my local library, purchased the CFRE Exam Compass Study Guide, and attended three CFRE Study Days through AFP – Greater San Fernando Valley Chapter. I was fortunate to go through this process during COVID which provided me additional access to training online. Take advantage of these opportunities as they arise!
The most valuable tool was the CFRE study groups. I joined a group created by Amanda Adkins from Canada. Amanda, Scott, and Kathryn kept me on track with my study goals and also helped me find answers to questions I had. I cannot thank this group enough!
I recommend if you are looking for a study group to check on CFRE’s website.
How long did you study?
I studied for eight weeks with a minimum of 10 hours per week.
As someone who suffers from test anxiety, this helped me feel confident in my knowledge to be prepared to take the test.
Oftentimes candidates feel anxious about sitting the exam. How did you keep your thoughts focused and positive?
When I met with my CFRE Ambassador, he helped me understand the importance of self-affirmations and positive self-talk. Throughout the test, I had to remind myself, “You are a CFRE” and, “You know this information.”
I truly believe this was key to not getting overwhelmed during the test. In addition, I remembered to breathe and took breaks as I needed.
How did you feel when you learned you had passed the exam?
I jumped for joy! As someone that struggled with test-taking throughout my life, it was a huge sense of accomplishment.
What value do you see in fundraising professionals earning their CFRE early in their careers?
It adds value to your employer who will ultimately invest further in you. More importantly, it helps provide you with the confidence you will need to be a successful fundraiser!