10.25 To CFRE or Not to CFRE?

Dear Kim:

I am Korean and starting an NGO here in Korea to help provide funding for teachers in Africa. 

A few days ago, I read in the newspaper that the first Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) certificate had been awarded here to a Korean fundraiser.  Is this a real credential such as a JD or a CPA?  Is it a needed credential to work as a professional fundraiser? Does this credential help donors really trust you more? 

I am young and wanting to become good at fundraising and show that I am sincere and honest.  Should I spend time and money getting this credential? 

Thank you in advance!!

Best regards,

Seeking Terrific Honorifics

Dear Terrific:

To start with full disclosure, I do not have a CFRE and will probably never get one.  Having said that, having one will not hurt and may help you.  The process of getting a CFRE requires study and an exam.  If you have one, an employer knows that you are good at exams and that you know the material in the exam.  The employer also knows that you are committed to being ethical and to bringing pride to the profession. However, I believe there are a lot of other ways to show that you are knowledgeable and to demonstrate your integrity.    

I have never sat for the CFRE because it is expensive, because I have never had anyone ask me if I had one and then not hire me because I didn’t, and because most people in the development and fundraising profession who I know don’t have one.  The fact that only now, in 2012, is the first Korean getting one shows how uncommon and unnecessary this credential is.  It is not at all like having a JD, which means you have gone to school for three years to be a lawyer.  I think the intent may have been for the CFRE to be more like a CPA, but it doesn’t carry the weight of that certification either. 

With all you have to do to start a new NGO, I would put this at the end of a long list of things you might want someday and work for all the other things first. 

~Kim Klein