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How to Talk About Your CFRE Designation With Prospective Employers

By Stacia Swanson posted 11-28-2023 15:19


One of the many benefits to earning and recertifying your CFRE designation is that it sends an important signal to prospective employers: I am a proven skilled professional who takes this work seriously.

The truth is, most of us find our way into fundraising through a variety of channels. I’m not sure I’ve ever met anyone who said their childhood dream was to be a fundraiser!  Or even to be a nonprofit executive, for that matter! 

In fact, I often hear the opposite: “I could never do what you do.”

I could spend hours telling anyone who will listen that fundraising isn’t about asking people for money—it’s about relationship-building. But the truth of the matter is, not everyone can do what we do!

Being a CFRE means you approach your work ethically and strategically. It shows you’ve achieved a level of success plus are committed to lifelong learning and continual improvement. That’s what prospective employers need to know about you. 

This isn’t a path to something else. It’s not doing fundraising because it’s just “part of the job.” It’s because you love it and are focused on excellence in all aspects of your practice.

Start the Conversation

CFREs say earning the credential opens doors to greater professional opportunities. Many report they receive more interview requests and calls from recruiters versus before they certified.

When in a job interview, maximize the CFRE credential’s value by highlighting how it differentiates you from other candidates.

Whether or not your prospective employer understands the complexities of what it takes to become a CFRE, it’s important to weave the advantages into your interviews and conversations.

Talking Points

Depending on appropriateness, I encourage you to emphasize the details that will set you apart from candidates who haven’t achieved their CFRE designation, such as:

  • The basic requirements to even apply to sit for the exam, which demand a certain amount of fundraising success, education, and time in the profession.

  • The challenge of the exam itself, which requires extensive study with both broad and deep knowledge about key areas of nonprofit management and fundraising.

  • To maintain your CFRE credential, you are dedicated to continual growth and learning, always looking for the newest perspectives, best practices, and trends to incorporate into your daily work and life.

  • You approach donor conversations with confidence, knowing your skill set and comprehension of ethical best practices will enable supporters to reach their philanthropic goals.

  • You are ready to lead and train others on your team to adhere to the highest standards to drive your department’s accomplishments.

Fundraising professionals with the CFRE designation are committed to success. That’s why we accepted the challenge to apply, study, and pass the exam.  We believe in the professionalism it brings to our work and standard it holds us to. 

I’m honored to be a CFRE and to volunteer as a CFRE Ambassador. I believe the CFRE designation and standards make all of us better at what we do. 

When we’re better at what we do, our organizations are stronger, and we’re readily able to achieve the results that move our missions forward every day.