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Elevating Your Career and the Profession

By Wesley Scott posted 03-28-2023 09:25


“Let’s be honest. What we do is sales.”

Ugh. How many times have philanthropy professionals heard this, from our own ranks, nonetheless?

Just recently, at a professional development luncheon, this very statement was exclaimed. To my dismay, many nodded their heads in agreement.

While I certainly recognize the foundation our noble profession has in sales, marketing, and other fields, we have evolved to be so much more than “sales.”

Let me be clear. There is nothing wrong with sales, but we know our profession—philanthropy—is about the betterment of humankind, not the benefit of a bottom line.

Our profession has seen a great evolution over the last 30+ years as universities, nonprofits, foundations, and other entities have seen their reliance on philanthropy grow exponentially.

Look no further than higher education where 2022 giving saw the largest year-over-year increase since 2000, in part because of lagging enrollment and re-allocation of state and federal dollars. These critical dollars are funding the current and future needs of universities and other organizations.

Earning your Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) credential demonstrates your commitment to the betterment of society, while focusing on ethics, best practices, and the balance of the art and science of philanthropy.

The CFRE Exam combined with the required learning and experience needed before you can test work to elevate us from a field that looks for quick wins to one that focuses on the power of relationship building and mission-centered philanthropy founded in ethics.

As professionals in this field, we are bringing together community-minded individuals with organizations working to solve a problem—education, child welfare, environmental protection, animal welfare, and the list goes on.

This is more than just trading a ticket to a gala for a set price that has a tax-deductible component. We will never solve any systemic problems by raising funds from a gala; we will make great strides when we align interests, influence, and philanthropy together.

As a profession, this is not a zero-sum game. My favorite reference is a rising tide truly lifts all boats in philanthropy. We can work together to advance the profession and solve problems!

When we, as individuals, organizations, and an industry say we must do better, we do better. When we focus on ethics, best practices, and the art and science of philanthropy, we do better. When we promote a higher standard, we do better.

The CFRE is that standard and allows our profession to move beyond a transactional sales-based fundraising model to a truly philanthropy-based, transformational model. 

Connect With a CFRE Ambassador
Join the more than 7,700 professionals that use our noble profession to elevate humankind and move beyond the antiquated idea that philanthropy is just sales.

Ready to start working towards becoming a CFRE? Email to be put in touch with a CFRE Ambassador who can answer your questions about approaching the process and career benefits.