One of the key markers of any profession is the existence of a credible certification program built upon an identified body of knowledge. The Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) credential provides development professionals with a recognizable demonstration of personal and professional achievement and commitment to the field.

The CFRE designation is a fantastic way to demonstrate your dedication to your career, open new doors in the development field, and enhance your credibility. The 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 meeting these standards through both an application and a written examination.


  • All candidates must complete a written application that works on a point system. A minimum number of points in four areas must be documented. Those areas include Professional Practice; Education; Professional Performance; and the Code of Conduct. To apply for the CFRE, you must have professional fundraising experience, documentation of professional performance and continuing education, and service through community organizations.
  • Many current CFREs have said the hardest part of getting certified is not the test: it is the application, which requires the applicant to report on the previous three years of job performance, continuing education, and other items. Keeping track of all of those binders and folders you get can be difficult, but it’s easier than remembering that conference you attended two years ago!
  • Whether you’re planning to take the CFRE in a few months or a few years, it can be a wise strategy to start your application today. After you finish a conference or course, add it to your application. When you’re ready to get certified, your application will be nearly complete!
  • Upon completing their application to the program, candidates agree to adhere to the Donor Bill of Rights and the CFRE Program's Accountability Standards, designed to promote integrity and ethical behavior of fundraising executives.

The Exam

Candidates must achieve a passing score on a standardized written examination consisting of 200 multiple-choice questions. The exam is a four-hour exam covering knowledge from the following six core knowledge areas:

  • Current and Prospective Donor Research
  • Securing the Gift
  • Relationship Building
  • Volunteer Involvement
  • Leadership and Management
  • Ethics Accountability


Because fundraising is a dynamic field and because certification attests to a professional's competency, certification is awarded for a three-year period. A new application updating your Professional Practice, Education, Performance, and Service is required in order to continue to be certified. However, you do not need to sit for the exam again to recertify.


Key Dates

Visit the CFRE site to view current testing windows.