Exercise Your Volunteering Funny Bone

By Susan J. Ellis

Mother Nature seems angry with us. Snow and ice across the northern hemisphere, floods in Australia, earthquakes in New Zealand, volcanoes in the Philippines, rapid ice melt in the Arctic. Next we’ll work our way through the ten plagues!

Is the weather getting you down? How about the economy? Things looking generally dismal? I don’t know about you, but I definitely could use a good laugh!

One of the earliest covers of Ms. Magazine was a cartoon of a man was asking a woman, “Do you know feminists don’t have a sense of humor?” To which she replies, “No, but if you hum a few bars, I’ll fake it.” The beauty of a great cartoon is that it captures the essence of a multi-layered situation. Like feminism, volunteer management can be unremittingly serious, yet we are in the middle of the human condition and lots of aspects of working with volunteers are pretty funny, if not hilarious.

Sandy Sineff in Secrets of Successful Boards, ed
by Carol Weisman

Here at Energize, we’ve always tried to find and share humor: cartoons, jokes, funny anecdotes, and other things that show the lighter side of working with volunteers (a few are in the column to the right). But after all these years, there are still only a few postings. Often the humor that can be found is related to boards of directors and association management, not the whole world of volunteering.

It’s time to take action! With many countries coming upon their various National Volunteer Weeks (and since this is both IYV+10 and the European Year of Volunteering), let’s exercise our collective funny bones and generate more laugh-worthy materials.

Our Challenge to You:
Send Us Your Volunteer Humor!

We want to find – or create – anything funny that either celebrates the joy of volunteering or illuminates the frustrations we all encounter while working together with volunteers. Bonus points if the humor is about being a director of volunteer involvement! So…

  • smiley Community Service: It isn't just for celebrity offenders.

    If you have any favorite funny items, jokes, or stories, please type them into our response field below. If you want to send us an illustration, cartoon, audio, or video file, please e-mail those directly to webmaster@energizeinc.com. If the material is copyrighted to someone else, please make sure you have permission to post them. If in doubt, let us know and we’ll help you determine the rights. (For example, there is a funny ecard online that we may not reproduce here, but it can be sent as a free postcard from its host site.)

  • smileyThe ark was built by volunteers; the Titanic was built by professionals.

    If you know of any Web sites with a collection of volunteer-related humor – even if it is related to a specific type of setting – please give the URL (often the keywords can be changed to reflect another setting and still apply).

  • If you know anyone with skill as a cartoonist (you might see if anyone on staff or in the current corps of volunteers has this talent), invite him or her to create an original humorous image. S/he can retain the copyright, but needs to give us permission to post to our site (with full attribution, of course).

Vote for Your Favorites on Facebook!

We will post your submissions to a special "photo album" on our page on Facebook.  Go to the album and select "like" for each of your favorite pieces of humor.

The top three winners will receive a $25 gift certificate to shop in the Energize Online Bookstore. Please submit your entries by March 31, 2011.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook  because we will announce the winners there on April 1st (no fooling!).

Whether March will go out like a lion or a lamb, let’s at least make sure the animal has a smile on its face! Looking forward to seeing your submissions.


And the winners are...

smileyCongratulations to the winners of this month’s volunteering humor contest! Receiving a gift certificate for shopping in the Energize Online Bookstore are:

  • Nicolette Winner (yes, that is her last name!), HandsOn West Central Ohio Director, Council on Rural Services, Piqua, OH
  • Elizabeth Ellis, Consultant, Writer, Trainer, WI
  • Mirna Sherberg, Executive Assistant/Volunteer Coordinator, Fresno Philharmonic, Fresno,  CA (who gets a special shout-out for gumption in sharing her photo!)

Thanks to everyone who submitted items and those who voted on Facebook. The contest is now closed, but we are happy to keep accepting and sharing things that allow us to laugh about the lighter side of volunteering.

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Permission to Reprint