How did you enter the fundraising profession and for how long have you been a fundraising professional?
I had been volunteering with a non-profit organization, and when their director of fund development left the organization, I was offered the position. I had no prior fundraising experience but loved the organization. My first year was rough as I realized how hard fundraising really is, but with the help of a lot of great mentors, I fell in love with the industry.
How did you first hear about the CFRE?
As a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Aloha Chapter, I attended a CFRE informational workshop while I was still relatively new to fundraising and had no idea what a CFRE was. I was fascinated by this professional achievement and the journey to accreditation.
When was the moment you decided you would pursue your CFRE?
I had been thinking about pursuing my CFRE for some time but had always put it off. When the pandemic started, our office moved to remote work and all of our campaigns and events were canceled. I attended a number of virtual webinars and conferences during this time, which made me think that it was a good time to pursue my CFRE credential. Although the pandemic was a time of uncertainty, it became the motivation that I needed to finally start my CFRE application.
What were your top two reasons for earning your CFRE?
I decided to pursue my CFRE since fulfilling the requirements and preparing for the exam would make me a stronger fundraiser and give me more confidence in my fundraising skills.
About how long did it take you to fill out the application?
I had dreaded filling out the application! It is probably what prevented me from starting it for many years. I thought it would be a frustrating process, but I was pleasantly surprised. The online application made entering the information simple. The program allowed me to easily come back to work on the application when I found time. It took me less than a month to find the required documentation and complete the application. My application was also selected to be audited and because I kept my documentation in one place, I was able to complete the audit in one day.
How did you go about meeting the application’s education requirements?
As a lifelong learner, I have always enjoyed and appreciated the value of attending conferences, seminars, and workshops. I attended these events for my own professional development, but found that as a result, I had also met the application’s education requirements.
Did your workplace support you in earning your CFRE? If so, what kind of support did they offer?
My workplace allowed me the opportunity to attend professional development webinars and conferences and gave me time off to study, prepare the day before, and to take the exam.
You’re an executive director for a school. Why do you think it is important for leaders of an organization to have their CFRE?
It is important for colleagues, committee members, board members, and donors to have confidence in your skills and knowledge. Having a credential that is recognized worldwide shows that you are committed to your craft, abide by ethical practices, and are dedicated to continued professional growth.
You recently became a CFRE. Are there any benefits you’ve experienced as a result of being a CFRE so far?
As soon as I passed my exam, I immediately felt embraced by this community of fundraisers who extended their congratulations on earning my CFRE.
How did you prepare for the CFRE exam?
There are a lot of great resources on the CFRE website! I started by creating a study plan based on the template provided, and I worked backwards from my exam date. I scheduled the topics that I needed to study for each week. Although there are many suggested resources listed, I decided to purchase the CFRE Exam Compass Study Guide. About a month before my exam, I purchased the Practice Exam subscription.
What preparation tool did you find to be most useful?
I found the Practice Exam offered by CFRE International to be the most helpful tool for me. This subscription gave me unlimited access to practice questions through a platform hosted by TestRun. Having the exams broken down by knowledge domains helped me to know which domains I needed more work on. Although none of the practice questions appear on the actual exam, it gave me an important insight into the terminology that would be used. I also became accustomed to the format of the exam which gave me confidence while I was taking it.
What is your advice for people who are considering the CFRE but aren’t quite sure if it’s right for them?
Earning my CFRE credential has been one of the highlights of my career. Preparing for the exam allowed me to become a stronger fundraiser and obtaining my certification made me more confident in my abilities as a fundraiser and a leader. I highly encourage those who are committed to this industry to see this as an investment in themselves, in their organization, and in the fundraising profession.