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Data on 2005 CFRE Exams Released

(Aug. 7, 2006) CFRE International has released aggregate data about the 2005 Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) exams, highlighting how applicants fared on the test overall and areas where fundraisers may need to improve.

The CFRE exam is required of all fundraisers who wish to attain the CFRE credential. CFRE International, based in Alexandria, Va., is the organization that manages the CFRE exam and credential.

The exam contains 225 questions, and scores range from 200 to 800. Candidates must score at least 500 to pass the exam.

In 2005, a total of 525 new candidates applied for the CFRE, with 637 examinations being administered during the year.

The mean (average) score was 527. U.S. scores ranged from 259 to 686, while Canadian scores varied from 264 to 647.

The passing rate of all test takers in 2005, including those re-taking the exam, was 70 percent. The passing rate for first-time test takers was slightly higher, 74 percent.

Areas of Improvement

The 2005 CFRE exam covers six major areas of fundraising knowledge:

  • Current and prospective donor research
  • Securing the gift
  • Relationship building
  • Volunteer involvement
  • Management
  • Accountability

U.S. candidates fared the best in volunteer involvement, while Canadians scored highest in relationship building.

The area where U.S. candidates fared the worst was relationship building, which includes marketing and communications. The lowest-scoring area for Canadians was securing the gift.

Neither U.S. nor Canadian candidates scored particularly well in management,  relative to other areas.

Why Certify?

Certification shows the public that fundraisers are committed to the highest ethical and professional standards and have gained significant levels of competence in their work. In addition, AFP’s salary surveys show that fundraising professionals who are certified typically earn more than their noncertified counterparts. For example, according to the most recent AFP Compensation and Benefits Study, U.S. fundraisers with a CFRE reported average salaries $22,000 higher than the average for respondents with no certification, and individuals in Canada holding the credential earned C$20,000 more than those with no credential. (Individuals who hold the ACFRE or FAHP earned $57,000 more than noncredentialed individuals in the United States and $44,000 more than noncredentialed individuals in Canada.)

CFRE International offers many other reasons for becoming certified:

  1. Certification grants you more credibility. CFRE certification serves as an impartial, third-party endorsement of your knowledge and experience against international standards in philanthropy. It adds to your credibility as a fundraiser and sets you apart from other professionals.
  2. Certification can improve career opportunities and advancement. CFRE certification can give you the “edge” when being considered for a promotion or other career opportunities. CFRE certification clearly identifies you as an employee who has demonstrated mastery of fundraising principles and techniques based on accepted best practices.
  3. Certification prepares you for greater on-the-job responsibilities. CFRE certification is a clear indicator of your willingness to invest in your own professional development. Certified professionals are aware of the constantly changing environment around their profession and possess the desire to anticipate and respond to change.
  4. Certification improves skills and knowledge. Typically, achieving CFRE certification requires training, study and “keeping up” with changes. CFRE certification showcases your individual mastery by confirming proficiency and knowledge in the field. CFRE certification also requires recertification every three years, proving you stay ahead of the curve in fundraising.
  5. Certification may provide for greater earnings potential. Many fundraising professionals who have become CFRE certificants experience salary and wage increases based on their certification status. Studies show that on average CFRE certificants earn 17 percent more than their noncertified counterparts. In addition, CFRE certificants are in high demand internationally.
  6. Certification demonstrates your commitment to the fundraising profession. Receiving CFRE certification shows your peers, supervisors and, in turn, donors your commitment to your chosen career and your ability to perform to set standards.Certification enhances the profession’s image. The CFRE certification program seeks to grow, promote and develop certified professionals, who can stand “out in front” as role models in the fundraising field.
  7. Certification reflects achievement.
  8. CFRE certification is a reflection of personal achievement because the individual has displayed mastery of his or her field by meeting requirements and standards set in philanthropy.
  9. Certification builds self-esteem. CFRE certification is a step toward defining yourself beyond a job description or academic degree while gaining a sense of personal satisfaction.
  10. Certification offers greater recognition from peers. As a CFRE certificant, you can expect increased recognition from your peers for taking that extra step in your professional career.

AFP members are encouraged to become certified as soon as they are able. As AFP is a participating organization in the CFRE program, AFP members receive a discount when applying for certification.

CFRE certificants also can earn the Advanced Certified Fund Raising Executive (ACFRE) credential, offered by AFP. For more information about the ACFRE, click here. Also see the article “Certification and Continuing Education: Not Just a Job” in the May/June issue of Advancing Philanthropy.



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