Category: Business, Business for good
Publication date: June 15, 2021
Extent: 268 pages

Making the Ask

The artful science of high-value fundraising

Bernard Ross
Clare Segal


If you’re a fundraiser or social entrepreneur keen to secure large gift for any kind of social cause you need to be able to ask the right people for the right money in the right way. But how do you do that?

In this ground-breaking book, global experts Bernard Ross and Clare Segal share their approach – used by major fundraising organisations from UNHCR in the Middle East to MSF in the US and from UK’s Oxford University to MEF Museum in Argentina – which has been used to secure gifts up to $110m in a single ask.

Whether you’re an experienced fundraiser looking for new ideas, a newbie keen to get to the right approach fast, or a board member anxious to help out, you’ll find the answers you’re looking for inside. The book also has a special social bonus – every copy you buy will result in a donation to the WHO foundation to pay for a Covid 19 vaccine in a developing nation. “One reasonably useful book = one life-saving vaccine.”


No fundraiser’s office should be without this book
I would buy any book by Bernard Ross AND when he co-authors one with the outstanding Clare Segal, I would ensure that I don’t miss it! This amazing duo’s latest book, Making the Ask, does not disappoint.
I have been reading up on behavioural science to improve fundraising success for a few years and have had some wins just based on following basic principles. This book was therefore timely and will become an essential read for anyone wanting to maximise income to their non-profits. Although a serious subject and critical to any fundraiser, Ross and Segal’s book is peppered with their inherent humour, making it a fun but vital read.


Ross and Segal’s super new book engagingly breaks form how to prepare your propositions passionately and persuasively for success. Using years of proven experience with decision science to give you practical and applicable tools to make the ask, raise more money and be able to do more good in the world.


A remarkable book that covers not only how to engage with donors, but also how to manage yourself while doing it. Full of insights clearly expressed, and illustrated with examples from the authors’ successful practice. I hope nobody else who might approach our target donors before us reads it 😉


Practical and modern guide to fundraising
Making the Ask is an excellent update on Ross & Segal’s previous work ‘The Influential Fundraiser’. It now incorporates the latest learnings from decision science, advancing the already useful psychological and sociological tools from their previous work. The book is a deeply practical and reflective guide for any individual whose job it is to inspire others to change the world through donating money.


This is an absolute must if you are serious about your job just not as a fundraiser, but as someone working in the charity sector.




  • Usual thanks
  • Dedication


  • Background on how the model was developed
  • Several examples anecdotes where the approach has worked
  • Some of the science background and name check


This section outlines the key organising principle/model- the 5Ps and how they are interconnected:

  • Passion: how to get yourself, and your donor, into the right mindset to seek and secure support
  • Proposal: how to shape and organise a complex story into one that is salient and simple

Preparation: all the key issues you need to consider before you make the call, type the email, prepare the proposal

Persuasion: how to handle the interaction with a prospect- a range of psychological techniques to manage the conversation

Persistence: you rarely succeed in your first approach- this element explores how to deal with challenges

Chapter 1: Passion

  • Creating a personal anchor for you and the supporter: getting yourself into a success mindset and your prospects into a [philanthropic mindset
  • Understanding hygiene and motivation factors; understanding Hertzberg-inspired safety and motivation factors
  • Creating your Personal Brand: establishing how you want to come across in the situation- behaviors, appearance, style
  • Chapter 2: Proposal:
  • Organising complex messages: the =mc story framework using key psychological drivers: +/- outcomes and future/present
  • Creating Powerful Propositions: how to chunk your overall need into propositions related to the needs and interests of a prospect
  • Mr Ockham’s Shaving kit: how to ensure you have made your proposition super simple- a key to success

Chapter 3: Preparation

  • You can’t always get what you want: dividing up the outcome you want into a LIM-it: Like, Intend and Must. (A range of acceptable outcomes.)
  • Taking the prospect on a journey- how to shape the steps for the prospect towards a positive outcome beyond a successful gift
  • Think Feel Do: at every step you should consider three ?: what info do I want the prospect to know, how do I want them to feel, what do I want them to do?

Chapter 4: Persuasion

  • Building rapport: how to build engagement with people who are not like you- the importance of mirror neurons
  • How do people think they decide v how do people actually decide?: System 1 vs system 2 including key unconscious biases
  • VAK: the importance of adapting your language and communication style to match that of the prospect

Chapter 5: Persistence

  • The 9 Nos: when ‘no’ doesn’t really mean ‘No, but means ‘ask me a better question… ‘and the importance of Killer Questions
  • Be Resourceful: techniques to recover form challenges call on your Mental Mentors, or adopt a new Perceptual position
  • Learn from the Past: the importance of after action review- answering the three key learning questions

Glossary: explanation of key terms and phrases commonly used

Further Reading: related books and resources to explore

About the Authors: some background info and credibility building

The book will offer access to a range of complementary bonus material. This will be accessible on-line

How to be an effective Volunteer Board Fundraiser

Some specific hints on how to improve the effectiveness of volunteer fundraisers

Writing a Case for Support

A more detailed explanation of the =mc Case for Support Structure

Developing a supporter journey

How to move a prospect along the stages of the 5P model



Paperback / 9781788602372 / June 15, 2021 / £19.99

Ebook / 9781788602365 / June 14, 2021 / £9.99

Paperback and eBook Bundle / £22.49


Bernard Ross

Bernard Ross is a co-director of =mc consulting,, a management consultancy working worldwide for ethical organisations.
He co-authored Breakthrough Thinking for Non-Profit Organisations with Clare Segal which received the Terry McAdam Award for Best Non-Profit Book in the USA 2004.
The Influential Fundraiser was nominated as one of the top 5 ‘must read’ non-profit books in the New York Times online in 2009. Most recently Global Fundraising, edited with Penny Cagney, won the Skystone Prize for Research and was published in China in 2018 by Shanghai University Press. Strategy was published by the Financial Times/Pearson in January 2016.
With Omar Mahmoud, Head of Global Knowledge at UNICEF International he wrote Change for Good- behavioural economics for a better world, published by semioscreation/=mc in March 2018.
With his talented colleagues at =mc he has created global strategies for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, WHO, Amnesty International, Médecins Sans Frontières, and UNICEF international. As a fundraiser he’s raised money to refurbish France’s most famous monument, for a museum to house the world’s largest dinosaur in Argentina, and to save the last 800 great apes in Africa.

Clare Segal

Clare Segal is a co-director of =mc consulting.

Her key areas of expertise are communications and personal coaching for charity and NGO leaders. She has pioneered writing high impact fundraising cases using psychological insights for a number of leading charities in the environmental, child protection and healthcare areas. These cases have transformed the impact of charity communications for major donors. Among the charities she has helped are NSPCC, WWF, Save the Children, UNICEF International and the Alzheimer’s Society.

She co-authored Breakthrough Thinking for Non-Profit Organisations with Bernard Ross which won the Terry McAdam Award for Best Non Profit Book in the USA 2004 – the only time Europeans have won this award. Also with Bernard Ross she has co-authored a number of books most recently The Strategy Workout, part of the prestigious Business Gym Series published by Pearson, 2016.

Prior to setting up =mc she was an award-winning video producer and director winning ‘Best Community Video’ award twice in the UK for multi-media work on sexism and volunteering.