As stewards of the public trust, Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) International certifies fundraising professionals who demonstrate the knowledge, skills and commitment to the highest standards of ethical and professional practice in serving the philanthropic sector.

CFRE International fulfills this mission by establishing and administering a voluntary certification process based on current and valid standards that measure competency in the practice of philanthropic fundraising.

In furtherance of its mission, CFRE International promotes voluntary certification, in dialogue with government and other bodies globally, as the preferred alternative to licensure and/or government regulation.

Why Certify?
CFRE – Making a Difference in Many Lives, Many Ways


Like many people, I worked as a fundraiser for years before I learned about the credentialing process known as “obtaining my CFRE.” I had enrolled in some classes at a local community college on various fundraising topics, mainly to expand my skills and training in areas of the profession other than those I had been immersed in for so long. One of the instructors’ business cards indicated she was a CFRE, and my curiosity got the better of me. After class, I asked about the designation and was encouraged to review the national website. Almost six months later, I drove over 300 miles to take an exam I was sure I would fail despite having read almost fifty of the books on the reading list as “insurance.” Getting the letter conferring my newly earned credentials was a personal and professional highlight.

In just over two years, I have absolutely used my CFRE recognition to radically change my employment situation. My new and current employer, who was not unusually familiar with the CFRE program, was so impressed that he accepted my offer to come to work for him as his Development Director and oversee his non-profit’s $1.5 million annual budget! (He had initially posted a job for an associate to do primarily volunteer coordination.) Oh yeah, as a condition of my hiring, he also stipulated that I’d be given a nearly 9 percent raise after my first 90 days to make my salary “more consistent with my local colleagues.” Two weeks into my new career, I wanted to share my story with you and others as a testament to the value of our credentials. – Jim Hahn, CFRE, Development Director, Guest House of Milwaukee, Milwaukee WI

Does It Pay to Become Certified?

  • In the U.S., Certified Fund Raising Executives (CFRE) earn 17% more than their non-certified colleagues. The average salary of CFRE certificants in the United States is $85,032.
  • In Canada, CFRE certificants earn 36% more than their non-certified colleagues.  An average salary for Canadian CFRE certificants is $81,862.
  • Statistics courtesy of the 5th Annual Compensation and Benefits Study conducted by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) – January 2005

What Other Colleagues Are Saying About Becoming Certified

“The certification process provided a personal challenge that tested my knowledge of the profession and gave me a tremendous feeling of accomplishment when I received the designation. I think it establishes your credibility among your peers and a standard by which to measure your own performance.” – Nan Selz, CFRE St. Vincent Foundation, Little Rock, AR USA

“I got tired of people from other fields taking fundraising jobs. That’s why I got my CFRE. It tells the world I’m a fundraiser. That I’m dedicated to the profession.” – Steve Thomas, CFRE Chairman and Creative Director, Stephen Thomas, Inc., Toronto, ON Canada

“The CFRE programme is one way in which we can challenge ourselves professionally and to evaluate performance. The certification program tests us as professionals. Certification communicates to a board member, executive director or president that this person is qualified for the position she or he holds and it creates self-esteem and a greater sense of professionalism. Do you need certification to be successful in this field? No, but you will enhance your professional credibility and sense of self-worth. Lastly, I believe you will have a long and very fulfilling experience in the advancement profession” – George Engdahl, CFRE, California Lutheran Hospital, Thousand Oaks, CA USA

Top 10 Reasons to Become CFRE-Certified

  1. Certification grants you more credibility. CFRE certification serves as an impartial, third-party endorsement of your knowledge and experience against international standards in philanthropy. It adds to your credibility as a fundraiser and sets you apart from other professionals.
  2. Certification can improve career opportunities and advancement. CFRE certification can give you the “edge” when being considered for a promotion or other career opportunities. CFRE certification clearly identifies you as an employee who has demonstrated mastery of fundraising principles and techniques based on accepted best practices.
  3. Certification prepares you for greater on-the-job responsibilities. CFRE certification is a clear indicator of your willingness to invest in your own professional development. Certified professionals are aware of the constantly changing environment around their profession and possess the desire to anticipate and respond to change.
  4. Certification improves skills and knowledge. Typically, achieving CFRE certification requires training, study and “keeping up” with changes. CFRE certification showcases your individual mastery by confirming proficiency and knowledge in the field. CFRE certification also requires recertification every three years, proving you stay ahead of the curve in fundraising.
  5. Certification may provide for greater earnings potential. Many fundraising professionals who have become CFRE certificants experience salary and wage increases based on their certification status. Studies show that on average CFRE certificants earn 17% more than their non-certified counterparts. In addition, CFRE certificants are in high demand internationally.
  6. Certification demonstrates your commitment to the fundraising profession. Receiving CFRE certification shows your peers, supervisors and, in turn, donors your commitment to your chosen career and your ability to perform to set standards.
  7. Certification enhances the profession’s image. CFRE certification programme seeks to grow, promote and develop certified professionals, who can stand “out in front” as role models in the fundraising field.
  8. Certification reflects achievement. CFRE certification is a reflection of personal achievement because the individual has displayed mastery of his or her field by meeting requirements and standards set in philanthropy.
  9. Certification builds self-esteem. CFRE certification is a step toward defining yourself beyond a job description or academic degree while gaining a sense of personal satisfaction.
  10. Certification offers greater recognition from peers. As a CFRE certificant, you can expect increased recognition from your peers for taking that extra step in your professional career.

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