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!
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.
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!
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.