President/Executive Director of the Civil Air Patrol Foundation Kristina Jones became a CFRE in 2005. We caught up with her on the benefits being a CFRE has had on her career and donor conversations.
How long had you been in development when you decided to pursue your CFRE credential?
Nearly 10 years. I started in the local United Way and then to higher education and began my pursuit of the CFRE credential while I was in healthcare.
What made you think the time was right to pursue your CFRE credential?
I had a wonderful boss and mentor, Barbara McColm, CFRE, who was a great encourager and made sure I had access to trainings through the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy to build out my application.
What were the main reasons you decided to become a CFRE?
It was important to demonstrate my experience, capabilities, and knowledge to my peers, the board of trustees, and to grow in my career.
Some fundraising professionals wonder, “Does it really matter whether or not I’m a CFRE? I am hitting my targets and not looking to change jobs anytime soon.” For anyone with that thought, what would you say?
In 2009, I had this exact thought. I almost let it drop. Fortunately, my husband encouraged me to renew the credential, and fast forward to 2018…it’s the primary reason I secured an interview and was hired for my current position.
What benefits has being a CFRE had on your career?
When I am able to teach and train about fundraising, it provides credibility. In addition, it’s a conversation with donors. What I am unable to measure, but suspect to be true, is it creates credibility in my communications with donors and partners.
Did your employer contribute towards the application fee?
All of my employers have been supportive of covering the recertification fee. It’s important to set that expectation during the hiring process.
When a donor asks, “What does ‘CFRE’ after your name mean?” how do you respond?
I’m a Certified Fund Raising Executive and it means I have the education, the documented experience with results, and the knowledge to serve donors to my fullest ability.
CFREs recertify every three years. Participating in continuing education is one of the recertification requirements. Some people who are senior in their careers think, “Ugh, I don’t want to go to another conference. I’m tired of webinars.” Where do you find engaging, useful education?
There is so much available online these days—associations, vendors, consultants, and more.
Last year, I attended the Nonprofit Storytelling Conference and did a survey with NextAfter. For me, it was confirmation that you have to stay relevant.
To those of us who have been doing this a long time, I agree…how many case for support or development plan seminars can you attend after more than 30 years? But there is so much more to engaging with donors post pandemic.
I’ve found the speed settings in Zoom recordings. You can listen in half the time and pickup the main points. The key is continuous learning so you can lead, grow, and evolve your program.
For someone starting out on their CFRE journey, what are your top pieces of advice?
I actually hope to pay the mentoring forward to one of the employees who is a fairly new hire.
Our conversation has been:
1) Diversify your learning
2) Plan, document, and evaluate your work
3) Look at fundraising as a system. Ensure you have a view and understanding of the entire program, even though your job description may just be a segment of the activity.
Don’t be scared of the test. If you truly do the three items above, you will be just fine.
Save 20 Percent on CFRE Certification
Development staff of BBB WGA Seal Holder organizations save 20 percent on both the CFRE initial certification fee and recertification fee. Learn more about how becoming a CFRE can power your development career at cfre.org/certification.