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CFRE Study Buddy Program

Resource Center - Foundation

by Jennifer Conley, CFRE

Jennifer ConleyI vividly recall setting the goal to achieve my CFRE designation 10 years ago. I had researched the process on the website, downloaded the book list, had purchased ten of the books and had set an aggressive study schedule for myself.  

I was so keen and psyched to earn my accreditation!

Then, my books and study schedule sat on my desk for…..three years.

What finally broke my inertia was a CFRE Study Buddy Program offered by my AFP Ottawa chapter. The structure and discipline of the program, and the peer pressure of the participants and the leader, prepared me to succeed on the exam. And I did.

Having gone through the program successfully, I felt a responsibility to “give back” to my chapter, and to other aspiring CFREs, and lead my own Study Buddy Program in Ottawa.

Last year’s program participants, or “buddies” as we call each other, had a 100 percent success rate in passing the exam.  We also like to say we have had a 100 percent success rate in breaking the inertia that can often be created when considering the process involved with obtaining the CFRE.

We are offering a Study Buddy Program again this year that we think will be even more effective. Once again, we’ve set a goal for 100 percent success. As a key feature, participants from last year’s program will be mentors and be actively involved in setting the program’s curriculum, schedule and pace. They will also be present as experts at the monthly sessions to answer questions and concerns.  They will set the standards for this year’s participants, and ensure that we have a group that feels accountable and supportive to each other.

We’ve learned some other valuable lessons that will also be applied this year. In a practical sense, all members of this year’s group have to “sign on” to a rigorous September-June program and the expectations will be made very clear at the onset.  Having the support of the group and the mentors, a “divide and conquer” approach to the readings and an optimistic and positive mindset for the experience will hopefully once again give all the participants a fun and rewarding experience.

We’re all looking forward to starting the program and sharing an important goal, meeting new fundraising friends in the community, networking, sharing best practices from our respective organizations, learning and growing together. And we’re all looking forward to creating a wonderful experience that leads to more of our AFP chapter members achieving their CFRE!

Ms. Conley’s 20 year career has been solely focused in the philanthropic sector, in progressively responsible leadership roles in education, international development and health care. In addition to her current role as Chief Advancement Officer – Acting for Carleton University, and previously as Carleton University’s Director of Major Gifts, she has been pleased to volunteer as the Advancement Chair on the Board of Directors for the Association of Fundraising Professionals Ottawa Chapter. Contact her,

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