It is hard to find a fundraising professional more impassioned about helping animals than Australia-based Kerin Welford, CFRE.
She has lent her fundraising talents to not-for-profit organizations such as: Wellington SPCA, Forest & Bird, Assistance Dogs Australia, and FOUR PAWS Australia, to name a few. Her commitment to improving animals’ lives doesn’t stop there. Kerin is the President and CEO of Borneo Orangutan Survival Australia, Board Director of SPANA Australia, and is the founder of both Borneo Orangutan Survival New Zealand and Sydney Street Cats.
Currently, she is also the Director of Bluestone Fundraising, a fundraising and marketing consultancy. She has been a CFRE since 2006.
Here, we caught up with her about the impact the CFRE credential has had on her career and her advice for others looking to get started.
What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
A piece of simple but solid advice the late Director of Wellington SPCA Rosemary Williams gave me is that in leadership you need to be able to make decisions. They may not always be the easy, popular, or even right decisions, but you need to be confident in your decision-making abilities.
Can you describe the moment when you knew fundraising was the right career for you?
Early in my career as the Fundraising and Marketing Executive at Wellington SPCA in New Zealand, I had fallen into the role (like many fundraisers). I soon realized what a unique opportunity it was, finding every day brought new challenges which I thrived on.
At the same time, my involvement with the Fundraising Institute of New Zealand was invaluable as a Central Division committee member, where I had support from my peers.
From those experiences I decided fundraising would be my chosen career path. I never looked back. The opportunity to work within the charitable sector is a privilege and food for the soul.
You celebrated 17 years as a CFRE in 2023. What benefits has being a CFRE brought to your fundraising practice?
Obtaining my CFRE credential, the only internationally recognized fundraising qualification, has always been viewed within the not-for-profit industry as the epitome of a fundraiser’s career.
Being a certified CFRE has allowed me to leverage my ability as a best practice industry professional.
Many fundraising professionals learn their craft from on-the-job training along with attending various conferences and education events. How has the CFRE credential supported and enhanced your professional development and learning?
On-the-job training, education modules, and conferences make up the traditional professional development pathway experience for most fundraisers in the industry, and rightly so.
It’s all of those experiences and touch points that keep learning fresh and enable fundraisers to follow industry trends and developments.
Earning the CFRE credential doesn’t mean the learning stops there. The fundraising industry’s promotion and recognition of the CFRE credential lends weight to encouraging fundraisers to seek and, ultimately, obtain certification as part of their professional development journey.
Firstly, there are requirements to qualify to take the exam. Then there is recertification every three years. So, unlike many qualifications, having to keep up professional development and professional achievements to reach recertification ensures your relevance in the marketplace at an international standard.
While many professions require practitioners to have a license or credential, from accountants to hairdressers, no such mandatory exists for fundraising professionals. The CFRE is a voluntary credential. Why do you think it is important for fundraising professionals to step up and earn a credential even though it isn’t required to practice?
Every fundraiser should always be looking to progress their professional development with a view to obtaining their CFRE certification as the ultimate goal.
Doing so collectively raises the bar of the fundraising sector, and there is also the sense of personal achievement that comes with obtaining your CFRE.
Around half of employers financially support staff in earning their CFRE credential. For the half that don’t, how would you explain to them the value a CFRE brings to a development team?
Employers who invest in professional development foster a sense of value and pride in their team’s achievements and enable pathways to success, not only for their fundraisers but for the organization.
Upon achieving CFRE certification, CFRE International provides a press release to the new CFRE. It can be used to announce their professional milestone inside and outside of the CFRE’s workplace.
Why should clients put their trust in a consultant who is a CFRE?
As the only internationally recognized fundraising benchmark qualification, clients can be sure that not only does a CFRE-certified consultant have a wide range of best practice fundraising experience, but has also obtained and maintained a standard of excellence in fundraising.
For anyone on the fence about whether or not to become a CFRE, what advice do you have?
Just do it. Never think you are not ready to give it a go! Obtaining CFRE certification is the best professional qualification any fundraiser can hold. It shows the not-for-profit industry you have “arrived.”
My advice would be to always keep records of your fundraising professional development learning history to qualify to take the exam, and ensure you take advantage of all of the CFRE study resources available in preparation to take the exam.