How Important is a Nonprofit Certification to Executive Advancement?
Here's something to think about: how important is a nonprofit certification?
According the article title, “Will I Need a License or Certification for My Job?,” nurses, teachers and lawyers usually need a license to work in their field. Some may also have certifications. License and certifications show that a person has the specific knowledge or skill needed to do a job. Typically, you earn credentials after you have completed your education. Sometimes, you become licensed or certified after you have gained practical experience through internships, residency or time on the job.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a license is awarded by a governmental licensing agency; gives legal authority to work in an occupation; and requires meeting predetermined criteria, such as having a degree or passing a state-administered exam. A certification is awarded by a professional organization or other nongovernmental body; is not legally required to work in an occupation; requires demonstrating competency to do a specific job through an examination process. About 26 percent of employed people in the U.S. had a license or certification in 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In the article, “How to Develop Yourself as a Nonprofit Leader,” by Bridgespan, six senior nonprofit leaders offered advice to mid-level nonprofit managers looking to move into senior leadership roles.
These individuals made several important suggestions for others to consider:
- Volunteer for events and special projects that cut across functional boundaries
- Make sure you gain fundraising experience
- Seek advanced degrees, certification programs, informal peer networking, professional networking, join professional associations, etc.
- Seek informational interviews with others in your field
- Seek continuing education of any sort
- Think big about your future;
- Move up by moving on if relevant to your career goals
A 2014 LinkedIn study was advanced by Christa Beall Diefenbach at the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. This study noted that certified nonprofit professionals (CNPs), are seven times more likely than non-CNPs to reach a director-level or higher position at a nonprofit organization. These CNPs also remain in the nonprofit sector 50 percent longer on average than non-CNPs. The study was based on complied data from more than 500 of its members who are current or past employees of Nonprofit Leadership Alliance nonprofit partners. The study included a sample of both CNPs and non-CNPs.
The Nonprofit Leadership Alliance has worked since 1948 to strengthen the social sector with a talented, prepared workforce. Its Certified Nonprofit Professional credential is the only national nonprofit management certification in the U.S. The core requirements for a CNP credential requires coursework, internship or professional experience, participation in the Alliance Management Institute and participation in leadership and service activities.
This LinkedIn research also looked at the entire universe of CNPs on LinkedIn and determined that CNPs are educated, get promoted, have ambition, are versatile and are talented. The mission of the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance is to strengthen the social sector with a talented, prepared workforce.
Many nonprofit executives also choose to obtain the Certified Fund-Raising Executive (CFRE) credential. For many, having the CFRE helps get better jobs, higher salaries and more respect from bosses and donors.
Many CFRE fundraisers receive a higher salary than their non-certified counterparts even though many of the members of the Association of Fundraising Professionals still do not have the CFRE credential for various reasons. This certification shows that a person has a breath of knowledge. Many recruiters believe the CFRE certification is a stamp that signifies a fund-raiser work experience. Thousands of fundraising professionals believe in this credential.
According to members of The National Association of Nonprofit Organizations & Executives (NANOE), members believe that “innovation never fears a challenge” and that the greatest contribution nonprofit practitioners can make to charity is to become the creative, thinking enterprise-leaders our sector desperately needs. According to their literature, NANOE is the only nationwide membership organization in the U.S. for executives seeking credentials in the art of nonprofit capacity-building. Practitioners who hold a prestigious NANOE credential are “best practice” experts who grow charitable enterprise and discover new ways to advance the common good. NANOE sponsors the “CDE” Certified Development Executive and “CNE” Certified Nonprofit Executive credentials.
InsideCharity examines several factors associated with these organizations. The author notes that the CFRE is a subsidiary organization of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. CNC (Certified Nonprofit Consultant) is part of the umbrella of CNE, CDE and CNE, all overseen by the NANOE.
An important contrast to these certifications is CFRE uses a certification process to measure a practitioner’s acumen, education and achievements. CNE, CDE, CNE uses credentialing to transfer a new set of capacity-building skills while recording a practitioner’s acumen, education and achievements.
I encourage each nonprofit executive to review the landscape of opportunities for growth and development and pursue them with vigor. I have advanced degrees, taken many certification classes, and have been a proud CFRE member for more than 25 years. I encourage you to seek certification(s) that is right for you and stick with it. The result will hopefully propel you to a higher level of nonprofit executive positions with increasingly higher status of recognition in the profession through your certification achievements.
I believe certification is important to nonprofit executive advancement. You need to determine if this concept is important to you.
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, educator and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 10 years and has had the CFRE designation for the last 26 years. He has also been a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals for over 35 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 done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division plus Adjunct Professor for Olivet Nazarene University. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-224-1029.