Fundraiser Certifications

AFP Greater Madison ProgramAFP Global and AFP Greater Madison offer a number of educational opportunities designed for the experienced fundraising practitioner and for those on their way to becoming experienced. These opportunities address both the practical skills and theoretical understanding required of advanced-level fundraisers. The CFRE (Certified Fund Raising Executive) is one way to show your commitment to the profession and your professional career. The CFRE is managed by CFRE International. AFP Global and local chapters offer review courses, study groups, and certified professional development opportunities for those tracking their CFRE points.

To learn more, review the FAQ below or visit CFRE International.


If you're ready to start or continue your CFRE journey, AFP Greater Madison is offering a CFRE Working Group. Individuals who would like to talk with others on their journey to achieving the CFRE can join at leisure. This is also a dedicated time to work on your application, study plan, or find out about ways to meet the CFRE requirements. The group meets on the 1st Tuesday of each month from 8:30-9:30 am at Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, 211 S Paterson St Suite 100, Madison, WI 53703. Attendees are welcome to drop in for this group. Contact Creal with any questions.


The Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) credential demonstrates an individual’s mastery of the standards set for core knowledge and skills required of fundraising executives after three years of experience. This practice-based designation requires demonstration of having met these standards through both an application and a written examination.

CFRE provides you with a recognizable demonstration of your personal and professional achievement and commitment. It is the only nationally recognized professional credential for fundraising executives

The CFRE Program is governed by the CFRE Professional Certification Board. The program and the board is administered in cooperation with leading philanthropic associations:

  • Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP)
  • Association of Fundraising Consultants (AFC)
  • Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP)
  • Association of Lutheran Development Executives (ALDE)
  • Association of Philanthropic Counsel (APC)
  • Boy Scouts of America (BSA)
  • Brazilian Fundraisers Association (ABCR)
  • China Association of Fundraising Professionals (CAFP)
  • Canadian Association of Gift Planners—Association Canadienne des Professionnels en Dons Planifies (CAGP-ACPDP)
  • Educate Plus
  • European Fundraising Association (EFA)
  • Fundraising Institute Australia (FIA)
  • Fundraising Institute New Zealand (FINZ)
  • The Giving Institute
  • International Catholic Stewardship Council (ICSC)
  • Japan Fundraising Association (JFRA)
  • Kenya Association of Fundraising Professionals (KAFP)
  • Korea Society of Philanthropy (KSoP)
  • National Association of Cancer Center Development Officers (NACCDO)
  • National Association of Charitable Gift Planners (CGP)
  • National Catholic Development Conference (NCDC)
  • New England Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (NEAHP)
  • North American YMCA Development Organization (NAYDO)
  • Texas Association of Community College Foundations (TACCF)
  • United Way Worldwide (UWW)

1. Application – All candidates must complete a written application which requires information in four areas: Professional Practice; Education; Performance (dollars raised); and Service.

2. Examination – Once a candidate demonstrates the minimum requirements on the written application, there is a computer-based, multiple-choice examination designed to assess fundamental knowledge of fundraising theory and practice in the following areas: Current and Prospective Donor Research; Securing the Gift; Relationship Building; Volunteer Involvement; Leadership and Management; and Ethics and Accountability.

3. Recertification – To maintain CFRE status, recertification is required every three years. A new application updating Professional Practice, Education,  and Performance (projects managed or dollars raised)  is required. There is no examination requirement.

Ethical Code: All CFRE candidates must agree to uphold the Donor Bill of Rights and to adhere to a code of ethics and standards of professional practice in order to participate in the program.

The CFRE credential provides you with a recognizable demonstration of your personal and professional achievement and commitment. The CFRE signals your colleagues, your community and potential donors that you have the knowledge and skills to be a competent fundraising executive and that you are committed to upholding the Donor Bill of Rights and a code of ethics and standards of professional practice. The CFRE also says you are committed to continuing your professional growth through ongoing educational activities.

Individuals interested in the CFRE program must meet all of the minimum eligibility requirements. Those requirements include:

  • Paid, professional employment for a minimum of 36 months in the last five (5)  years, allowing for employment gaps. 
  • A minimum of 80 points in Education, consisting of points awarded for academic education and continuing education (1 point per clock-hour or .1 CEU). CFRE candidates are expected to have participated in ongoing educational activities.
  • A minimum of 55 points in the area of Professional Achievement. Points are earned for actual dollars raised (1 point per $25,000) and/or for major Communications projects (i.e., public relations campaigns) and/or Management projects (i.e., long-range strategic planning)
  • Professional Practice - A minimum of 36 points. 1 month of employment = 1 point. 
    Candidates who are or have been employed half-time may also qualify, providing 100% of their job duties and responsibilities consist of fundraising activities, resource development, and/or the management of fund development which results in generation of philanthropic support.

Eligibility requirements, exam preparation materials, and the online application are available on the CFRE website

Visit The application for the CFRE exam is very detailed and inclusive. Please allow ample time to complete the application, as its submission and fee are required 90 days prior to your selected exam date.

After CFRE International approves your application, you may schedule your exam. More information is available at  The exam is computer-based and your score will be given to you immediately upon completing the exam.


The Advanced Certified Fundraising Executive Program is administered by the ACFRE Professional Certification Board.

Certification as ACFRE requires successful completion of four stages of the process, which must be completed sequentially: a written application, a written examination, a portfolio review, and an oral peer review.

Candidates for ACFRE Professional Certification should be aware that not all "advanced" or "senior executive" continuing education opportunities are acceptable for the ACFRE application process.

To be eligible, such activities must address one or more specific topics in Advanced Organizational Management or Advanced Organizational Leadership, as described in the ACFRE Application and Guidelines.

Those interested in pursuing an ACFRE certification must meet the following criteria:

  • Have at least 10 years of experience in professional fundraising;
  • Currently have or hope to attain a leadership or managerial role in philanthropy;
  • Want to expand their knowledge and understanding of fundraising history, philosophy, and theory beyond a basic level, and/or;
  • Have identified the ACFRE designation as a career objective.