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Denied! Why 90% of Grant Applications Don’t Get Funded

Denied! Why 90% of Grant Applications Don’t Get Funded


Accessing more than 30 years of combined grant seeking and grantmaking experiences, this workshop reveals the hidden barriers to successfully navigating the grant application process. Grant proposals are declined for a variety of reasons, even though these projects have great merit. This unfortunate event can happen often, and it can be devastating to project teams who have invested many hours pursuing an award for worthy causes. It can often be most helpful to learn where we may misjudge, omit, miscalculate, or ignore small details to our own detriment. Join us to learn the factors that cause this to happen so you can anticipate these surprising pitfalls.


The workshop will cover:


  • Common mistakes made in assessing whether a project and its budget are a good match for a particular funding opportunity;
  • How proposals are evaluated by reviewers and understanding the identities of reviewers; 
  • Where application content can easily go wrong when it comes to specific application materials like narratives, letters, appendixes, and more; and
  • The pitfalls, so you can give your applications a better chance of being awarded.



  • Knowledge of common mistakes made at every stage of the grant seeking process;
  • Greater understanding of reviewer protocols, comments, and viewpoints, and what can happen during the review process; and
  • Learning about the most common mistakes made by applicants.

Bess de Farber has provided grant seeking instruction and collaboration workshops to thousands of library staff, nonprofit and academic professionals, artists, and university students in the past 33 years, and has led efforts to secure millions in grant funding for academic libraries and nonprofits. She is the author of two books on grant seeking, Collaborative Grant-Seeking: A Practical Guide for Librarians and Creating Fundable Grant Proposals: Profiles of Innovative Partnerships, and co-author of a third, Collaborating with Strangers: Facilitating Workshops in Libraries, Classes, and Nonprofits. Currently, she offers grant seeking training, CoLAB workshops for real time collaboration planning, strategic coaching, and editing services through her consulting company, ASK Associates.

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