Fundraiser Certifications

AFP Greater Madison ProgramAFP offers a number of educational opportunities designed for the experienced fundraising practitioner. These opportunities address both the practical skills and theoretical understanding required of advanced-level fundraisers.

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 the the CFRE Refresher Course in June 2017. This course is designed new and continuing certifications.


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 of Christian Development Professionals (ACDP)
  • Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP)
  • Association of Fundraising Consultants (AFC)
  • Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP)
  • Association of Lutheran Development Executives (ALDE)
  • Canadian Association of Gift Planners (CAGP)
  • Association Canadienne des Professionnels en dons Planifies (ACPDP)
  • Council for Resource Development (CRD)
  • Fundraising Institute Australia (FIA)
  • Fundraising Institute of New Zealand (FINZ)
  • International Catholic Stewardship Council (ICSC)
  • National Catholic Development Conference (NCDC)
  • North American YMCA Development Organization (NAYDO)
  • Philanthropic Services for Institutions (PSI)
  • United Way of America

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, Performance (projects managed or dollars raised) and Service 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 five (5) of the most recent eight (8) years, allowing for employment gaps. CFRE candidates must be employed full-time as a fundraiser or fundraising consultant.
  • 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)
  • Points totaling a minimum of 55 in the area of Service. Points are awarded for volunteer service with any professional association and/or community organization (i.e., local church, youth groups, etc.)

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.

When it's been determined that you can sit for the exam, CFRE International will provide you with a list of authorized testing centers that you can call and arrange to take the exam.CFRE launched a new CFRE Examination in 2011. The new exam includes topics from the previous exam plus new topics in donor research, volunteer involvement, leadership and management, and ethics and accountability.


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.