In this original blog, Ashley Gatewood, Communication and Marketing Director at CFRE International, explains the importance of investing in training.

When employers need to trim a budget line item in leaner times, professional development frequently gets the first cut of the ax.

It feels quite ironic, doesn’t it? If your organisation needs to succeed against surmounting odds, such as a looming recession, it’s the time to ramp up the development team’s knowledge.

Identify Your Skill Gaps
Everyone has a skill gap. The world moves quickly, and the world of fundraising is no different. From crypto to Millennial giving to the generational wealth transfer and more, there is always something new to learn.

To support your success, your organisation should have a robust professional development budget. If they don’t, make a case for one. I know you can do this. You’re a fundraiser who knows all about timing conversations and asking for support.

The continuing education isn’t necessarily to benefit you. It ensures you have the sharpest skills to meet fundraising targets. Ultimately, it’s your employer who reaps the rewards.

CFRE International, the organisation that administers the global Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) credential, recently conducted a LinkedIn poll. At the time of this writing, 119 respondents weighed in on the question, “How will your organisation’s 2023 professional development budget compare to 2022’s?”

Thirty-three percent of respondents replied the 2023 budget is less.


With next year looking like a steeper hill to climb, it is the absolute worst time to disinvest in staff.

Research Now for 2023 Budget Figures
It’s wise to start researching professional development opportunities three to four months before your organisation’s budget exercises.

Look at conferences, trainings, workshops, and webinars that address topics where you’ve had the least professional experience or don’t feel confident you have the most up-to-date knowledge. If the 2023 pricing for these events hasn’t been published, use the 2022 ones as a guide. Don’t be shy to email organizers and ask for 2023 event pricing before it has been publicly released. Many will oblige, especially when they learn you are asking to better get employer support for attending.

Armed with this information, make your “perfect world” professional development plan. It may be several thousand pounds. Don’t be afraid of the number. Remember, this is a starting point.
If your boss’ eyes pop wide when they learn of the number, offer to revise it down. Don’t let anyone talk you into making it zero.

Go Big With a Credential
To truly cement your fundraising knowledge, a comprehensive credential can be just the ticket.

A credential that includes an exam measures your know-how, providing you and your employer with peace of mind you are going forward with the required skills. It can take months or years to work towards a credential, but don’t let that put you off. As you prepare for the exam and attend required trainings, you’ll pick up useful tips you can incorporate into your practice straightaway.

For example, the CFRE credential requires fundraising professionals to pass an exam that covers six knowledge domains: Current and Prospective Donor Research; Securing the Gift; Relationship Building; Volunteer Involvement; Leadership and Management; and Ethics, Accountability, and Professionalism.

Research which credentials cover the areas essential for success at your organisation and build their cost into the professional development budget.

Short on time and funds? Micro-credentials can be a smart investment. They are often hyper focused on one area of knowledge and can be attained in several days.

It’s Time for Your Employer to Support Your Professional Development
In the talent wars, employers need to offer packages employees want. A 2022 survey uncovered that 83 percent of respondents believe employers should invest in staff’s continued education.

It’s never too early to have the conversation with your boss. Do your research, know where you want to brush up, and make a case to your boss that investing in your knowledge is key to a smashing 2023.

To learn more about the CFRE credential, visit

Ashley Gatewood
Ashley Gatewood

Ashley Gatewood
Communications and Marketing Director
CFRE International

Ashley Gatewood is passionate about the nonprofit sector and membership associations, having spent the bulk of her career in these areas. She loves talking about the CFRE credential and how it can help elevate fundraising professionals’ careers. Ashley has been with CFRE International since 2018. She believes nonprofits and the people within them play an integral role in shaping our world for the better.

Previously, she was the events and marketing manager at the Fundraising Institute of New Zealand where she helped bring world-class fundraising programing to the country.

Ashley holds a bachelor’s from Towson University in Maryland and a master’s from the University of Texas at Austin.

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