by Matthew Leighty
I remember the day I sat for the CFRE exam. I had to wake up very early in order to travel to a local college where I would “write the exam.” I’ve taken a lot of exams, but writing the exam sounded much too official. It was raining that morning, and I took that as a bad omen. A superstition that I knew I shouldn’t allow into my head, but I did anyway. As I thought about my purpose for being there that morning, I reflected on Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”
In the time walking from the parking lot to the large building on campus where I would take the test, I was wondering if I had done enough. Had I studied the right material? Should I have read all the books on the CFRE recommended list? Should I have joined the study group with some of my professional friends the year prior? Would they let me have tissues in the room because I was fighting a cold? Would I have to sit in wet clothes while taking the exam?
In the end, I look back at two things that can lead one to success in passing the exam:
1. The conferences and seminars I attended through various professional organizations in the five years leading up to the test, and yes, of course that includes ALDE events. In other words, cramming will do very little to help.
2. The ALDE CFRE Study Days I attended two months prior to the exam.
The Study Days gave the overview I needed to organize my thinking. Going over the material gave me a better perspective on how the exam was organized and the way the questions were designed. I had never taken an exam quite like this, and knowing what CFRE was looking for gave me a real advantage. (Register now for the Study Days.)
When people asked, “Why did you sit for the exam? Do you really need your CFRE? Was it worth it all?,” I reflect back on Colossians 3:23. If I want to work in the fundraising profession, if I want to support my organization and do whatever I can to move its mission forward, then why wouldn’t I do everything I can to make that happen? If the CFRE would help even a little, I felt it was worth it. Remember, whatever you do, do it with all your heart. May God bless your journey through this exciting process.
By the way, in case you were wondering, I arrived at the exam area in mostly dry clothes. They frisked me before entering the room, but let me use their tissues, which they had to watch me discard when I left. … and I was relieved to learn somewhat abruptly at the completion of the exam that I passed. Thanks, ALDE!
Matthew Leighty is an Advancement Officer at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Ind. He is also the Chairperson of the 2013 ALDE International Educational Conference, to be held February 8-11 in Indianapolis.