CFRE? MBA? | To degree or not degree

publication date: Sep 9, 2019
author/source: Ann Rosenfield, MBA, CFRE

When you read to the end of this article, you will see I have an MBA and a CFRE. It's worth noting that research shows a connection between more education or a certification and better paying work so it is something for you to consider. Education is the path I have chosen but it is not the only way. I have worked for two bosses who had successful careers without a college or university degree. If you are thinking that education could be a way for you to move ahead in your career, here are some options to consider. 


The CFRE is administered by CFRE International. It is an independently monitored certification which means that they, themselves have the CFRE credential evaluated externally (pro tip - there is a fake certification business). The process does not require a specialist degree or certificate in nonprofit or fundraising. One benefit of the CFRE is that it is renewable so it shows employers that you are committed to keeping your skills sharp.


Many great Canadian universities offer the MBA and there are many MBA online programs. Two schools offer a special MBA in this area - Trinity Western in nonprofit management and York University in social sector management. One benefit of doing a MBA is that you will gain the opportunity of learning how to think and talk like a business professional - who are the people who are often your Board members and donors.


Carleton University is the first, and only, school in Canada to offer a Masters degree in Philanthropy and Nonprofit. If you are interested in doing in-depth studies focused just on the sector, this may be the best fit for you.

Certificate and Diploma programs

There are a number of certificate and diploma programs at colleges and universities across Canada in nonprofit management, fundraising, and related fields like digital marketing. Many of these programs are online or are offered in the evening making them a great way to study while working.

There are many paths to success in the nonprofit sector. I hope you find the key to your success by finding rewarding work however you choose to do that.

Ann Rosenfield, MBA, CFRE loves taking classes so education has been the best choice for her. She is a past teacher for fundraising at the college level and a regular lecturer at the University level.

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