Wisdom Wednesdays: C is for CFRE (Part 2)

by Heather McGinness, CFRE

Didn’t read Part 1 yet?  Click here.

So, you’ve been singing the “C is for CFRE” song all week and you’ve decided to take the plunge and become a CFRE, right?  Terrific!  Don’t be intimidated by the process; as our Sesame Street friends would say, it’s as easy as 1-2-3!

1. Apply

Begin your application online at www.cfre.org.   Once you create an account, you can begin entering your information and it will be saved for you.  Decide when you want to take the exam, which is only offered at specific times of the year, and then check the application deadline for that window.  Pace yourself — the best advice for this step is to not attempt to complete your application in one sitting!  Review the requirements, set up your account, enter your basic information and then set a timeline for finishing the remainder of the application.  Planning ahead is helpful.  You will need to document work experience, continuing education (you can get points for this at various ALDE events!) and volunteer roles from the last five years.  This means gathering numbers (education hours, dollars raised, etc.), dates and project details from that five year window, which can take a bit of research and organization, depending on how much documentation you’ve saved.  Again, say it with me: Planning ahead is helpful.  Assemble the information, enter it into your online account, review it, make any edits, take a moment to marvel at all you’ve accomplished over the last five years, then submit it.  CFRE will review your application.  If everything is in order, you’ll get a notice of eligibility for the exam and can schedule a time to take it.

Our author at a Sesame Street Live ice show.

2. Prepare

Depending on where you are in your career and what your work history has been will affect how you need to prepare.  The best way to gauge your readiness and prioritize your studying is to take the sample test CFRE has available.  Identify areas where you may have gaps, then take a look at CFRE International’s suggested reading list and seek out the materials recommended for those areas to help boost your knowledge.  CFRE International also has some tools and suggestions for preparation on its website.  For a full tune-up on your fundraising expertise, though, I recommend ALDE’s CFRE Study Days!  It’s offered as a webinar over two days, giving you the freedom to participate from wherever you are, and it’s presented by ALDE members who are CFREs.  All the CFRE exam modules are covered, highlighting best practices you’ll need to know for the test, plus you’ll receive a manual that includes the material covered and recommended resources.  This year, CFRE Study Days is scheduled for September 13 and 20, just ahead of the fall testing window.  Other great resources are local study groups and your peers (fellow ALDE members, for example) who are CFREs.  Your ALDE chapter may even be able to connect you with both!

3. Test

On the day of your test, try to start off on the right foot, rested and energized.  The exam is computer-based and you have four hours to complete all 225 questions.  Take your time, read carefully and do your best.  There’s a great feature that allows you to flag questions and go back to them later.  Use that to your advantage so that you don’t dwell or fret too long over any one item.  Believe in yourself!  If you followed steps 1 and 2, then step 3 should be the easiest part.

Congratulations!  You’ve made it!  Just remember what our Sesame Street friends taught us: say, “Thank you!,” to those who helped you along the way and share your gifts with others.  Oh, yes, and CELEBRATE!

Heather McGinness, CFRE, was brought to you by the letter T and the number 9, and has a special place in her heart for googley-eyed, friendly monsters.  She is a Philanthropic Advisor with Lutheran World Relief, and is based in Wickliffe, Ohio.  Learn more about LWR at www.lwr.org.


Wisdom Wednesdays: C is for CFRE (Part 1)

by Heather McGinness, CFRE

Read Part 2 here.

Acronyms are abundant in our work, and if you spend enough time in the nonprofit sector, you’re bound to run across someone with a part of the alphabet attached to their name.  Our friends in the financial side of things might be CPAs or CFAs, and our communication colleagues may be PCMs or APRs.  For those of us in fundraising, though, our internationally recognized accreditation is the CFRE (Certified Fundraising Executive), a certification that is highly valued but often misunderstood.  I’d like to enlighten you as to what these four extra letters are all about … Sesame Street style.

Our author at a Sesame Street Live ice show.

C is for….

  • Competence.  CFRE certification confirms your knowledge of the highest standards of professional competence and ethical practice in serving the philanthropic sector.
  • Credibility.  CFRE certification distinguishes you to employers and peers as a dedicated professional who keeps pace with the latest developments in fundraising.
  • Career Advancement.  CFRE certification makes you part of an elite group with greater career opportunities and earning power that averages 17 percent more than non-certified fundraising professionals.
  • Commitment.  CFRE certification is a public statement that you care about fundraising as a profession and are personally inspired to uphold its integrity.

I hear what you’re saying: “I’d love to pursue it, but it costs money and time.”  I get that.  Let me remind you, though, that you’re a fundraiser.  You know how to ask for things to support great missions, right?  Why fear asking your employer for funds that will elevate your skills and equip you to be even more effective for your organization?  See what your organization’s budget is for professional development, make a case for why becoming a CFRE will benefit your work and talk to your supervisor, board, etc.  As far as the time, think of your career like your spiritual development or a fitness regimen.  What you get out of it is what you put in it!  You won’t get closer to God without spending time with Him, you aren’t going to reshape your body without logging some miles on the treadmill and you won’t grow as a professional if you don’t make an effort to do so.  If you plan on having a career in development, then make the investment in yourself — no one else can do it for you.

And because no Sesame Street lesson is ever complete without a song …

(Sing along to the tune of “C is for Cookie” … with apologies to Cookie Monster)

C is for Certified — that means officially

F and R are for Fundraising — the job of you & me

E is for Executive — the best that you can be


CFRE starts with C!!!!

Tune in next week for more on obtaining the CFRE credential.

Read Part 2 here.

Heather McGinness, CFRE, is a Philanthropic Advisor with Lutheran World Relief, and is based in Wickliffe, Ohio.  Learn more about LWR at www.lwr.org.

Wisdom Wednesdays: Spring into Action! Help Others Grow With an ALDE Membership

by Natascha Malkemes

How long have you been an ALDE member? Do you remember when you first joined? What does ALDE membership mean to you? Take a few moments to ponder these questions (and please share your thoughts in the comments area).

I joined ALDE almost two years ago (time flies!) at the recommendation of my supervisor. At the time, I really didn’t know much about ALDE (to be honest, every time I heard the name “ALDE” I automatically thought of the grocery chain! Yes, I’ll admit it!). What I didn’t realize upon joining was that I would be welcomed right away into a great group of people. Soon after I joined I became involved in both the Message Team and Membership Recruitment Task Force. I felt like a celebrity at my very first ALDE conference in Portland (that “Newcomer” flag on my name badge sure did help!). It’s been a great experience. I have had the opportunity to connect with my peers in marketing and communications and resource development and have learned so much along the way. There’s no question that I have found great value in my ALDE membership. I must say, I belong to several other associations relevant to my field, and no other group has been as welcoming as the ALDE gang. I’ve gained the most from my experience with ALDE.

But enough about me, already! What about you? What did you think about when I asked the three questions above? Who do you know that could benefit from an ALDE membership? Who could you help grow in their fundraising or marketing and communications career? Share information about ALDE with them.  There are several membership categories to fit any need.

As an active member, you are truly ALDE’s greatest asset and make the best ambassador! Through the ALDE Ambassador Program, you can introduce prospective members to the benefits of ALDE. If that person joins, and includes your name on his or her membership application, you will receive a $25 Visa debit card. Pretty cool, huh?

Also, if you had a lovely time reminiscing over your experience with ALDE, the Membership Recruitment Task Force would be delighted to hear from you. We are always interested in gathering testimonials from ALDE members.

Let’s work together to help ALDE membership blossom!

Natascha Malkemes is the Director of Marketing and Communications at Lutheran Social Services (LSS) of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, Inc., based in Milwaukee, Wis. Learn more about LSS at www.lsswis.org.

Wisdom Wednesdays: Transformational Leadership and Volunteerism

by Jim Galvin

You have probably heard the term “transformational leadership” before. It is usually contrasted to “transactional leadership.” Transactional leaders set the goal, make expectations clear and reward positive volunteer behaviors. Transformational leaders do much more. They call volunteers to live at a higher moral level and to give time and energy to a cause beyond themselves. Why settle for transactional leadership when you can be a transformational leader? Good so far.

Here is the problem: Almost all the books and articles on leading volunteers promote transactional leader behavior. Even the ubiquitous advice to thank them. Verbally thanking volunteers is a kind of reward and therefore transactional leadership.

Here is a list of typical best practices you will find in most books:

Typical Advice for Leading Volunteers

  • Clarify expectations about the work to be done
  • Ask for a specific commitment of time
  • Decide if open-ended or commitment with ending date
  • Let them know ahead of time of any additional duties
  • Tell the prospective volunteers what expenses to expect and how reimbursements will be handled
  • Tell them ahead of time of any pre-existing problems
  • Let them know what help, if any, they can expect from you
  • Check with them to see how they are getting along
  • Respect the prospective volunteer’s right to say “No“ •
  • Thank them sincerely and profusely.

Now compare those behaviors to best practices for a transformational leader:

Becoming More Transformational

  • Get to know the volunteers deeply as individuals, why they donate their precious time and what they are passionate about
  • Ask them for solutions to real ministry problems
  • Be positive and uplifting, eliminate sarcastic comments
  • Invite them to be a part of a cause outside of themselves
  • Tell stories about changed lives as a result of their work
  • Set challenging goals
  • Work to create a sense of shared vision
  • Mold the group of volunteers into a high-performing team
  • Be an example they can respect and learn from
  • Make sure you are living according to your values
  • Check to make sure you look and act like a leader.

Volunteerism would function a lot better if we led in a transactional way and added transformational leadership to it. Why not be a transformational leader?

Jim Galvin, Ed.D., founded Galvin & Associates, Inc., in 1999.  Based in Elgin, Ill., he is an organizational consultant specializing in strategy, effectiveness and change.  Jim has been a speaker at several ALDE events.  http://www.galvinandassociates.com