Why didn't our nonprofit get a grant that was perfect?

Have you ever gotten feedback from a grant funder that your project wasn't a good fit, even though it seemed like a PERFECT Match to you? It could be that funders don't GET what your organization does because you are not speaking the same "language".

One of the earliest grant writing tips I learned when I first started was to repeat what the grant funder says. It kind of makes sense because therapists always say the best way to disarm and show someone you have heard what they are communicating is to repeat what they said back to them in their exact words, instead of giving our own interpretation or a summary.

So how would that work in grants? Here's an example.

A family foundation application says " Old Money Foundation supports programs that provide after school programs for disadvantaged youth". Your organization replies, "Kids Are Great nonprofit delivers out of school time programs for youth attending Title 1 schools". Both are saying the same thing, but the Foundation will probably like and understand your project better if you say " The Kids Are Great nonprofit delivers after school programs for disadvantaged youth". And then explain why your organization uses Title 1 as a way to tell if someone may be "disadvantaged".

You are probably thinking this sounds too simple, and that funders will see right through it. But what I have found is the opposite.

Repeating the funder's own words actually gives them confirmation, that yes, indeed you are on the same page and GET what they want to accomplish. I sprinkle this simple Jedi mind trick throughout the application by using words from the funder's application and website. I also like to repeat back the question they ask before providing an answer, if there is space, which makes it super easy for grant reviewers to find your answers.

What other 'mind tricks" do you use to make sure you and the grant funder are "speaking the same language"?