The CFRE Certification Team has reviewed thousands of applications. To help you have the strongest application possible, check out their advice below. Keep it handy as you prepare your application, so you can submit the correct information the first time.


  • Do list a few extra hours of education. That way, if something you have listed doesn’t count, you will still have enough extra to meet the minimum requirement.
  • Do make sure your professional practice matches your professional performance. Your employment record should show the jobs for which you have raised funds or for which you have completed the communications and management projects listed on your application. For consultants, make sure your client list includes the clients for which you have listed completed projects on your application.
  • Do spell out acronyms at least once on your application. That way, the CFRE Certification Team will not need to contact you to find out what organization the acronym stands for.
  • Do review your application one last time before submitting. Check for duplicate entries, incomplete items, etc.
  • Do list your presentations at conferences. Record these separately from conference attendance, as giving a presentation is awarded more points.
  • Do update your application regularly with your achievements. It can be hard to remember everything you’d done if you attempt to complete your application in one sitting.
  • Do contact the CFRE Certification Team with questions. The CFRE Certification Team wants to help you succeed!


  • Don’t list more hours for education than there are on your program agenda. Check your program agendas and only list as much education as was offered that day.
  • Don’t include breaks, meals, and networking events on your program agenda as education hours. Remember that breaks, meals, and networking events don’t count for points—only education sessions do.
  • Don’t list every class as fundraising-related education. Just because a tool/skill is useful for your fundraising work does not make it fundraising education. You can count up to 10 points of non-fundraising related education toward initial certification.
  • Don’t guess about application requirements. If you need additional information about application requirements, contact the CFRE Certification Team.
  • Don’t enter items as “TBD.” Most people forget to go back and edit those items, and it can be difficult to remember why you marked them as “TBD” in the first place.
  • Don’t list each newsletter (or other routine work product) as a separate project. Projects are temporary endeavors with specific strategic goals, as opposed to routine, ongoing work products like individual newsletters, etc.
  • Don’t select “academic course” for classes that do not earn academic credit from a college or university. This will give you an incorrect points calculation and make it appear that you have more points toward minimum application requirements than you do. A simple way to determine if your course counts as academic is this: Will you receive a grade that will be recorded by the college or university on your official transcript? If yes, then you are taking an academic course. If no, then the course you are taking is not academic—even if it is offered through a college or university.