Are You Certified?
Since December 1992, I have proudly held the Certified Fund Raising Executive certification from CFRE International. Prior to 1992, I already had experience as a fundraising professional for several years. That said, I felt a need to be certified because I knew CFRE International supported and encouraged fundraising professionals to aspire to the highest standards of professional competence and ethical practice in serving the public sector.
Nonprofit executives truly hold the public trust, and your reputation and the institutional reputation mean everything. We ask for time, talent and treasure from many, and they need to believe and have faith in our ability to be honest in our dealings. I studied for and passed the CFRE exam in Chicago. I had also been in the profession for more than five years, which is a requirement to take the CFRE exam.
I was motivated to obtain the CFRE because I knew professionals with CFRE certification earned 17 percent more than their noncertified counterparts. I learned that having a CFRE can increase credibility, improve career opportunities, develop skills and knowledge, and enhance one's professional image. The certification reflects achievement, fosters peer recognition and enriches self-esteem.
More than 5,300 professionals currently hold this certification. There is also an advanced certified fundraising executive certification (ACFRE), held by approximately 100 professionals. The bearer of the ACFRE designation possesses senior-level fundraising knowledge, skills as well as leadership, management and professional standards. Each year, hundreds of CFRE and ACFRE professionals receive critical, real-time continuing education that prepares them for today's changing world of international philanthropy.
I am in full support of continuing education and certification. The Association of Fundraising Professionals has an international membership of more than 30,000 members. The organization fosters development and growth of fundraising professionals and promotes high ethical standards and education in the fundraising profession. The Association for Healthcare Philanthropy is also an international organization with 5,000 members that represent more than 2,200 health care facilities. This organization also provides continuing education and training to an array of professionals on a daily basis. Both organizations provide a much-needed service and are very well-respected in the profession.
When looking at the total membership of AFP plus the number of members who have the CFRE designation, the majority of the current AFP membership does not possess the CFRE designation. All of these organizations are outstanding, and growth should be encouraged. My hope is that more professionals consider at least a CFRE designation in the future. The certification is dynamic, as you must stay active, raise funds, direct staffs, attend seminars and attend AFP/AHP-sponsored luncheons to receive continuing education credits, etc., to maintain your CFRE designation.
My current membership of 21 years expires on Dec. 30. Each renewal is for a three-year period. I welcome recertification, as I keep an active file needed for validation of my CFRE designation. I proudly display my framed CFRE certification on my office wall. I am ready for my next three-year certificate.
The Indiana Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals has a large and growing number of CFREs thanks in large part to Paula Jenkins, an outstanding, longtime resource development executive at Indiana University and past AFP Indiana Fundraising Executive of the Year who has directed CFRE examination preparation classes for more than 13 years.
As you create your New Year's resolution for 2014, ask yourself if you are certified. If you are not — isn't it time to improve your career? All you need to do is go online and register at CFRE International. The initials CFRE will look sharp on your name tag!
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-224-1029.