PhiLab interview: Frédéric Brière, young philanthropy professional, obtained an international certification

Par Caroline Bergeron , Researcher
15 September 2018


A graduate of the Philanthropic Management Certificate from the Université de Montréal, Frédéric Brière, 31 years old, succeeded the Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) in November 2017, in the United States of America. Slightly under 700 candidates from 27 countries obtain this international certification annually. There are only 30 “CFREs” in total in Quebec, and approximately 500 in Canada.

            From Public Outreach, where he is the business development manager, Frédéric Brière explains his motives and the challenges he had to overcome to reach his objective.

Why “CFRE”?

First of all, as a personal challenge; so few people from here put in the effort to pass the CFRE exam, which is known for being quite difficult. Also, of course, to maximize my chances of working on international projects. Abroad, this certification is by far the most recognized in philanthropy. At the moment, I am happy to be working in Montreal but I am not ignoring the possibility of pursuing my career in another country.

What level of preparation is expected of candidates?

Nine months of rigorous and “auto managed” preparation. The candidate must be seriously self-disciplined to succeed on the first try.

The difficulty is not limited to preparing for the 200 questions. The authorization to register requires in and of itself a solid professional career. To be admissible, the candidate must have accumulated a minimum number of points in each of the following four domains: professional practice, education, performance and code of conduct. For example, the fact of having managed a fundraising campaign of over 35 000$ awards you with 1 point; an undergraduate university diploma gives you 5 points, having a job in philanthropy gives you one point per month of experience, etc. You need a total of 171 points, accumulated over five years to pass the exam.

Was your university education useful for the preparation of the exam?

Yes, in multiple ways. All of the aspects of the certification were covered during the Philanthropic management certificate of the Université de Montréal. I can think of a few, major donations, large fundraising campaigns, legal and fiscal aspects of donations; ethics. Thankfully, the knowledge was still fresh in my mind, which helped me enormously when it came to answering the questions.

How did you come to the decision of choosing a career in philanthropy?

Many people chose philanthropy at random or following professional detours. That wasn’t the case for me. As early as my years at Lionel-Groulx Collège, I felt called upon; I chose the marketing program for this reason. It was mainly because of my interest in environmental causes. I worked for Greenpeace, including house visits, door-to-door, to spread awareness about climate change and the protection of ecosystems threatened by human activity. I worked for Équiterre, Oxfam Québec. I also did some humanitarian work abroad. It was thus natural for me to pursue my involvement by becoming a philanthropy professional.

The CFRE is a way of completing one’s academic career in an expertise that is more and more in demand and that is in constant evolution.