The nonprofit sector has changed dramatically over the last 20 years, shifting from a social-service-oriented approach of solving needs in communities to a more market-driven investment approach.
With that shift comes a demand for a highly trained workforce to manage all aspects of the billions of dollars raised through philanthropy each year.
Competition for that charitable dollar is fierce, while donor scrutiny is strong.
Staff at organizations and agencies struggle with how to get the greatest return on investment, not only in dollars but in staff time.
And accountability is a key factor for potential investors at any agency.
One way nonprofit workers can set themselves apart from their competition is through earning the right to place “CFRE” after their name.
What does it mean and why should anyone care?
Certified Fund Raising Executive International certifies fundraising professionals who demonstrate the knowledge, skills and commitment to the highest standards of ethical and professional practice in serving the philanthropic sector.
CFRE certification is not just about someone raising money in our community. Rather, it denotes a comprehensive knowledge about all the segments of nonprofit management.
That includes defining and designing an integrated development program; understanding volunteer and staff roles, responsibilities and relationships; managing information about prospects and donors; and obtaining knowledge of, and management skills for, fundraising methods, including annual, planned and capital giving.
Individuals achieving the status of CFRE have demonstrated not only an educational mastery of these aspects of the profession, but they have had experience raising a degree of dollars within the philanthropic community.
In addition, they have agreed to uphold accountability standards as well as the Donor Bill of Rights, as set forth by CFRE International.
Engaging someone with CFRE certification does not guarantee an employer the right match for the skills necessary to work with a particular organization.
But in the volunteer-driven world in which we work, it is an edge for the board of directors to know that this person has passed a series of hurdles to earn the CFRE after their name.
For the person working to obtain CFRE certification, there are many benefits, including earning on average of 17 percent more than their non-certified colleagues.
Earning a CFRE says you have demonstrated a comprehensive knowledge and skill set measured by a third-party source against other professionals and international standards.
The certification is practice-based and a measure of an individual’s real-life experiences.
In this rapidly changing world, CFRE is a way to demonstrate a willingness to stay on the leading edge of the fundraising profession and enhance the overall public image of nonprofit workers as ethical and accountable to the donor and board of directors.
Alice Lutz, who recently received CFRE certification, is president of Oxygen: Business Planning and Development, a Raleigh, N.C.,-based fundraising consultancy.