The Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) exam is a voluntary credential recognized worldwide, accredited by The American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The CFRE credential is the only accredited certification for professional philanthropic fundraisers in the world.
There are two steps to obtaining your International CFRE certification. The first is a written application, and the second is a written examination.
The written application includes a point requirement in three categories: education (80 points), professional practice (36 points), and professional performance (55 points.) Information on how to translate your experience and education to points are found on the CFRE website as well as additional information about eligibility requirements.
Registration and cost
The second step in obtaining certification is the written examination. Before you can register for the exam, you need to apply. Your application includes your application and payment of the application fee. The application fee for members of participating organizations is $700, and the application fee for non-members is $875.00. The application fee contains a non-refundable $50.00 processing fee. Credit or debit card, personal check, and money order are accepted forms of payment. Personal checks and money orders incur an additional fee.
Military members, veterans, and eligible spouses or dependents may be able to use their educational benefits for the application fee. The Pearson VUE website contains information on the options available to the Military.
There are four application deadlines throughout the year – January 15, April 15, July 15, and October 1. The application deadlines correspond with the quarterly testing dates. Once your application is approved, you can register for the CFRE examination. You need to register for the test during the window indicated on your authorization to test. Failure to register during the assigned window can result in forfeiture of fees and reapplication.
Test delivery method
The CFRE exam is delivered by computer at Pearson VUE testing centers located worldwide. There are limited appointments available, filled on a first come, first served basis. Some centers have Saturday appointments, and all centers have appointments Monday through Friday. After you have registered for your test, Pearson VUE sends you a confirmation email. The confirmation includes the date, location, and time of your test.
The CFRE examination consists of 200 multiple-choice questions assessing your mastery of six core knowledge areas of professional fundraising. The test is a computer-delivered, practice-based exam. The knowledge areas include:
- Current and prospective donor research – 28 questions
- Securing the gift – 46 items
- Relationship building – 52 items
- Volunteer involvement – 16 items
- Leadership and management – 38 items
- Ethics, accountability, and professionalism – 20 items
Each question has four possible answers. There is only one correct response. Try to answer every question as there is no penalty for guessing. The exam is closed-book. You have four hours to complete the exam.
On the day of your exam, arrive early enough to find parking, store your belongings, and complete the pre-test paperwork. Once your ID is verified, you are escorted to your testing station. You are provided scratch paper and a pen or pencil. After you finish the pre-test tutorial, your exam begins.
Work your way through the exam, marking questions to return to for review. Answer every question, even if you have to guess. You receive one point for each correct answer, and you are not penalized for incorrect responses.
When you have finished the exam, submit your answers for scoring. Your results are immediately provided. The results are not official until you receive notification from CFRE.
Each point earned on your exam is tallied and then converted to a scaled score. The scaled score ranges from 200 to 800, and 500 is the minimum passing scaled score.
Your official report includes your overall scaled score and information on your performance in each content area. If you did not pass, you can retake the exam twice within one year of your initial application, and you need to wait 30 days between attempts. Retake fees apply.
How Can I Prepare for the CFRE Test?
That’s a great question. We’ve broken down the answer into three parts.
- Do yourself a favor and study. Do not walk in unprepared. We have recommended prep materials below, but that only helps if you actually try. Plus, studying is actually proven to be the best antidote to test anxiety.
- Take care of yourself. Make sure you’re eating well, exercising, and sleeping. All of these things are scientifically linked to brain performance. If you take care of your body, you’ll be helping your grades.
- Get a study guide or set of flashcards. Some people study better a certain way. Find your study strengths and make the most of them. We’ve tried to make it easy for you by tracking down the best study guide and flashcard set for your exam. Below you’ll see links to both!