President's Perspective Blog

Mike’s Monday Message Takeover: Becoming an ACFRE

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BillHello! I am Bill Bartolini, PhD, ACFRE, FAFP, and chair of the ACFRE Credentialing Board this year. It is an honor and pleasure to serve in this role.

And it is a pleasure to take over Mike’s Monday Message to talk a bit about credentialing and what it means for our profession.

Having a credential like the CFRE (Certified Fundraising Executive) or the ACFRE (Advanced Certified Fundraising Executive) is certainly a boost for your career. It lets potential employers know that you have competence in how to do fundraising (the CFRE) and that you are a more advanced executive with management and leadership skills in development (the ACFRE).

But more than a personal accomplishment, having a credential signals that you care deeply about our profession, support professionalizing the field, and that you are committed to making the world a better place through ethical fundraising.

Started by AFP in 1991, the ACFRE is AFP’s highest level of certification for advanced-level professional fundraisers. The people who apply tend to be mid-career professionals who have been a fundraiser for 10 years or more, or more advanced professionals who want a capstone certification that recognizes their accomplishments.

I was a mid-career professional who had my CFRE, which meant I was a competent fundraiser who understood successful fundraising techniques. I had renewed my CFRE a couple of times, and I was looking for a career boost, a way to move into leadership and management roles, and so I began my ACFRE journey. (It worked! I learned important leadership skills that advanced my career and I moved into more senior-level positions.)

Chad BargerAre you ready to take the next step and become an ACFRE? I am happy to share that Chad Barger just completed his advanced certification while at ICON in Toronto.

“The ACFRE certification process is about far more than proving you know your stuff. The process takes you on a journey of self-discovery that you do not even realize you're on.  It's not for the faint of heart, but it's a worthwhile journey for seasoned executives looking to galvanize their fundraising career paths."  - Chad Barger, ACFRE, ACNP

Chad, and all the ACFREs, went through a 4-step personal development journey which build upon each other.

  • The Application. Here applicants demonstrate that they have a commitment to continuing education and have participated in senior-level leadership, management, and ethics educational opportunities within the last five years.  
  • The Portfolio. Candidates share a three-inch, 3-ring binder with physical evidence of senior-level leadership and management work.
  • The Written Exam. Candidates expand upon their portfolio by answering 5 questions on how they would approach leadership and management challenges within an ethical framework.
  • The Oral Review. Candidates have the opportunity to share their expertise and experience with development and philanthropy and their commitment to ethics.

Are you ready to get started on your ACFRE journey? There is a lot of support available for you if you are ready.

For instance, Chad was successful, in part, because he had a mentor who guided him through the process. You can sign up for a mentor here: ACFRE Mentor Program Application

My closing advice is this, don’t worry about all four steps. Simply begin the first one. Start the application to demonstrate your commitment to your continuing education over the past five years. The application will help you identify areas where you need to spend more time developing skills and experience to become a senior-level professional.

There are two applications deadlines in 2024: 

  • Friday, May 31st and Monday, September 30th
  • Applications can take up to six weeks to review.
  • Mentors who have an ACFRE are available to help applicants through the process.
  • Financial support is available through our CAF America Scholarship, learn more at: CAF America Scholarship

We are here to help you be successful. Simply reach out to Ian Adair, AFP’s Director of Leadership Development and Credentialing, will be happy to assist you. He will answer your questions and assign you an ACFRE mentor as a guide. Simply ask.

ACFREs serve as thought leaders, teachers, and mentors in the philanthropic sector. Pursuing the ACFRE means you are advancing your career – and the profession. We look forward to being part of your journey to become an Advanced Certified Fundraising Executive.

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