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The CFRE Review Course

AFP’s CFRE Review Course offers development professionals an opportunity to review the main components of a complete fundraising program.  It is a two-day, intensive program that provides an overview of skills, techniques, and program components based on fundraising experience at the five-year level.  

Note: As of October 2015, CFRE International announced minor CFRE exam changes that take effect January 1, 2016.  These changes have minimal impact on the exam itself, and do not significantly impact the value of participation in AFP's CFRE Review Course. 

For more information about the changes, please contact CFRE International at or view their 2016 CFRE Programme Updates.

Who should attend?

The course is intended for intermediate-level fundraising professionals who want a quick and comprehensive overview of fundraising principles at a step above the fundamental level.  Its content is organized around the CFRE exam domains: Current and Prospective Donor Research, Securing the Gift, Relationship Building, Volunteer Involvement, Leadership and Management, and Ethics, Accountability, and Professionalism.  Participants engage in fundraising problem-solving with top-notch professionals and network with fundraising peers.

What will I learn?

The AFP CFRE Review Course consists of an introductory module and nine content modules. Each module contains content, questions for discussion, activities and other ideas and suggestions for engaging participants in reviewing the material.

Brief Description of Each Module

Introduction to the CFRE Review Course– 20 minutes
Provides participants with an introduction to course content and allows them to get to know one another.  

Module I: Why Philanthropy? – 25 minutes
Provides participants with an overview of philanthropy and fundraising through brief exploration of how and why people give. Sets the stage for how the general principles of research, marketing, building relationships, and ethics apply to fundraising. Introduces a glossary of common fundraising terms and definitions.

Module II: Current & Prospective Donor Research– 1 hour, 45 minutes
Explores the strategies and tools needed to create, analyze, use, and maintain a prospect list. Examines methods for qualifying and rating prospects, and for conducting research to enable planning and evaluation of specific aspects of a fundraising program.

Module III: Marketing & Communications for Fundraising & Development– 90 minutes
Provides participants with an overview of marketing and communications tools, techniques, and strategies for promoting organizations and their work to stakeholders.

Module IV: Developing a Comprehensive Solicitation Program– 2 hours, 30 minutes
Beginning with developing the case, this module covers the steps involved in planning and implementing a solicitation program encompassing a variety of fundraising programs, from annual through major-gift and planned giving.

Module V: Building & Sustaining Relationships– 2 hours
Once plans for and structure of the fundraising program are in place, attention may be paid to establishing, building, and maintaining the relationships that are the core of effective fundraising. This module covers the concepts of cultivation and stewardship as well as of the balancing act that nonprofit organizations must undertake. Both individual and organizational relationships are discussed.

Module VI: Securing the Gift– 90 minutes
This module focuses on the tools, techniques, and elements used in asking for and recognizing annual and major gifts from donors, including preparing volunteers with the content they need to successfully solicit contributions to the organization.

Module VII: Volunteer Involvement– 90 minutes
This module focuses on methods and strategies for engaging volunteers in the work of the organization. It covers recruitment and retention, orientation and training, engagement in fundraising planning and implementation, and delineates the roles of volunteers and staff.

Module VIII: Management– 90 minutes
This module covers fundraising from the perspective of the development officer and/or CEO, touching on the various elements of strategic and operational planning, managing the fundraising process, staff management and development, and contracting outside services.

Module IX: Accountability– 60 minutes
This module provides participants with an overview of the legal, regulatory, and ethical considerations with which fundraisers must comply in order to ensure accountability and transparency for stakeholders.

Recommended Agenda: Two-Day Course

Day 1

8:30- 8:50 a.m. Introduction to Course
8:50- 9:15 a.m. Module I: Why Philanthropy?
9:15-10:15 a.m. Module II: Current & Prospective Donor Research
10:15-10:30 a.m. Break
10:30-11:15 a.m. Module II continues
11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Module III: Marketing & Communication
12:15- 1:15 p.m. Lunch break
1:15- 1:45 p.m. Module III continues
1:45- 3:15 p.m. Module IV: Developing a Comprehensive Solicitation Program
3:15- 3:30 p.m. Break
3:30- 4:30 p.m. Module IV continues

Day 2

8:15-10:15 a.m. Module V: Building & Sustaining Relationships
10:15-10:30 a.m. Break
10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Module VI: Securing the Gift
12:00-1:00 p.m. Lunch break
1:00- 2:30 p.m. Module VII: Volunteer Involvement
2:30- 2:45 p.m. Break
2:45- 4:15 p.m. Module VIII: Management
4:15- 5:15 p.m. Module IX: Accountability

Overall Course Learning Objectives

The objectives for the content modules in the CFRE Review Course as shown below match CFRE International’s objectives for the exam. However, to completely achieve these objectives, exam candidates should do significant study of the exam material on their own. This review course highlights key areas of knowledge required; it should be supplemented by thorough study of the CFRE Reading List, available from CFRE International at

As a result of attending this course and studying on their own time, participants should be well prepared to:

  • describe a framework for understanding why people give, including the psychology of giving, motivations for giving, and benefits to donors.
  • generalize the concepts used throughout the fundraising process
  • identify how the principles of research, marketing, building relationships, and ethics & accountability apply to fundraising.
  • design and conduct studies and/or surveys to plan [and evaluate] specific aspects of a fundraising program.
  • develop a prospect list by identifying individuals and groups who have the capacity and propensity to give in order to qualify candidates for further research and cultivation efforts.
  • analyze the prospect list using characteristics such as interest, values, giving history, and relationship to the organization in order to select potential donors for particular projects.
  • implement and utilize a data management system that stores information about prospects to enable retrieval and analysis.
  • rate prospects in categories of giving potential in order to prioritize and plan solicitations.
  • prepare donor-centered solicitation materials in order to influence and facilitate informed gift decisions.
  • develop and implement a comprehensive communications plan in order to inform constituents and identified markets about the mission, vision, and values of the organization, its funding priorities, and gift opportunities.
  • develop a compelling case for support by involving volunteers, staff, and other groups in order to communicate the rationale for supporting the organization’s fundraising program.
  • design a comprehensive solicitation program in order to generate financial support for the organization’s purpose.
  • evaluate the solicitation program using appropriate criteria and methodology in order to produce accurate analytical reports for effective decision-making.
  • develop a compelling case for support by involving volunteers, staff, and other groups in order to communicate the rationale for supporting the organization’s fundraising program.
  • design and conduct training programs for volunteers, staff, and other groups using various training methodologies in order to increase solicitation effectiveness [focusing on the content, not the training methodology. See Module VII for training information].
  • ask for and secure gifts from prospects in order to generate financial support for the organization’s purpose.
  • create a structured process for the identification, recruitment, evaluation, recognition, and replacement of volunteers in order to strengthen the organization’s effectiveness.
  • empower and support volunteers by providing orientation, training, and specific job descriptions in order to enhance the volunteers’ effectiveness.
  • engage volunteers in prospect identification, cultivation, and solicitation activities in order to raise funds more effectively and efficiently.
  • participate in recruiting experienced and diverse leadership on boards and committees in order to ensure that these groups are representative of and responsive to the community they serve.
  • involve volunteers in the planning, development, and execution of a broad range of activities in order to maximize commitment to the mission and goals of the organization.
  • delineate the roles of volunteer board members and staff in order to distinguish who have governance and management responsibilities.
  • participate in the organization’s strategic planning process in order to ensure that philanthropy is an integral part of the strategic plan.
  • design and implement short- and long-term fundraising plans and budgets in order to support the organization’s strategic goals.
  • conduct performance analysis of the fundraising program using accepted and appropriate standards in order to assess efficiency and effectiveness.
  • recruit, train, and support staff by applying human resource principles in order to foster professionalism and achieve the goals of the organization.
  • supervise staff by applying appropriate human resource principles in order to foster a productive, team-oriented work environment and enhanced personal performance.
  • contract for various services, when appropriate, in order to optimize the efforts of the fundraising function.
  • create gift acceptance and acknowledgement policies in order to reflect the values of the organization and satisfy legal and ethical standards.
  • report to constituencies the sources, uses, and management of donated funds in order to preserve and enhance confidence in the organization.
  • ensure that the intent of gifts is honored so that public trust is established and preserved.
  • ensure that the solicitation of gifts is conducted in accordance with the regulatory environment in which fundraising activities are conducted.
  • clarify, implement, and monitor donors’ instructions by ensuring that allocations are appropriate and documented in the organization’s financial records.
  • comply with all reporting requirements and regulations in order to demonstrate commitment to accountability and transparency.

How do I find a course and register?

The course is sponsored by AFP chapters in various locations around the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.  Get an up-to-the-minute list of course dates and locations by clicking on the link below:

See the current CFRE Review Course Schedule 

Course scholarships

Many AFP chapters offer a small number of full or partial scholarships to their members to attend the CFRE Review Course and other educational offerings. For more information about scholarships available in your area, contact the hosting chapter.

Hosting the CFRE Review Course

Your organization or chapter can contract with AFP to hold the CFRE Review Course in your area; for information, visit How to Host an AFP CFRE Review Course.

Study on your own

If you haven’t the time to attend the CFRE Review Course, you may want to purchase the CFRE Review Course Participant Manual as a self-study guide.  To order the manual, visit the AFP Bookstore.

Important notice

  • CFRE Review Course attendees receive the Participant Manual as part of their registration fee. If you purchase the manual prior to attending a CFRE Review Course session, you cannot deduct the price of the manual from the registration fee.

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