Overseeing fundraising for regional and community cancer sites across Alberta is no small task. Yet, it’s a job Soulafa Al Abassi, CFRE, Director of Community Philanthropy with the Alberta Cancer Foundation, takes immense pride in.
She also provides support to provincial fundraising initiatives that help create more moments for Albertans facing cancer.
Here, Soulafa talks about recently earning her CFRE, including how long it took to meet the Education requirement.
When did you first hear about the CFRE and what was the moment you decided to pursue it?
From a hospital foundation leader who is now retired, Joyce Mallman Law. She mentioned that her mentor encouraged her to get her CFRE and how beneficial that step was in her career. I am a fan of Joyce and her words of wisdom. It was the moment the seed was planted.
How did you go about earning the education credits for the application requirement?
My past work didn’t offer any PD dollars, so I had to find creative ways to join seminars and conferences through partnerships or sponsorships. I also signed up for a lot of newsletters that offered free education sessions. The year I got recognized as an Association for Healthcare Philanthropy 40 Under 40 honoree, I was able to convince my previous employer to send me to the conference, which added a few points.
How long did it take you to work towards the Education requirement?
Five years, from start to finish.
Did you let your boss know you intended to pursue CFRE certification? If so, how did the conversation go?
No, it wasn’t something my previous employer was offering to support.
Did you speak to your employer about contributing towards part or all of the CFRE initial application fee?
All certification fees were paid out of pocket.
Why do you think it is important for development professionals to invest in their fundraising knowledge?
Being a life-long learner is a good thing. I think it’s also nice and important to get paid fairly for what you do. So do whatever helps with moving you forward.
You’ve been a CFRE for just under two months, but have you experienced any benefits yet?
A sense of pride for belonging to CFRE International and mutual respect from those who understand what it took to get here.
Did going through the process strengthen your fundraising knowledge and, if so, how?
It confirmed and reaffirmed my fundraising knowledge and appreciation for best practices.
Is there anything you wish you had known about the CFRE process before you began it?
That your education points don’t count towards your re-certification until you’ve passed your CFRE. So if you’re preparing for your CFRE exam and your application has been approved, there is no point in signing up for any education sessions until you’ve passed your exam.
What is your advice to anyone currently on the fence about whether or not to pursue their CFRE?
Do it! Keep track of your education points, study, and pass the exam! You’ve got this.