8 Classic Nonprofit Jokes to tell at Parties


light-bulbs-406939_640pdLast week, someone told me I should go into stand-up comedy. I started working on some jokes. Here is the first batch. Try them out at your next cocktail party or annual dinner and you should have people rolling on the floor.


An Executive Director walks into a bar. The bartender says, “Why the long face?” The Executive Director says, “My organization is facing financial crisis due to the economy and funders’ shifting priorities. We may have to lay off some staff and close several programs, leaving thousands of low-income clients without service.”


Knock knock.

Who’s there?

The annual fundraising event!!!!!


How many board members does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: Eight! One to change the light bulb, and seven to distract the founder!

(Original answer: It really depends on the composition and skillset of the particular board. If there is an electrician on the board, for example, then it may only require one board member. However, if there’s a founder on the board, he might insist that the old bulb is perfectly good and there is no need to change it, so another board member may be required to create a diversion.)


What did the ED say to the PO? IOU N LOI


An Executive Director, a Development Director, and a board chair were adrift on a raft after their ship sank. The board chair looked at the ED and said, “This is all your fault. You were steering the boat!” The ED looked at the DD and said, “No, it’s all the DD’s fault. She was in charge of the sails.” The DD said, “It’s both your fault. You were steering the boat, but you were charting the course.” All three were devoured by sharks. It was the worst board/staff retreat ever and the organization never used that teambuilding company again.


What did the Executive Director say to the Finance Director at the organization’s annual holiday party? “It’s the end of the calendar year, please prepare to close our books so we can do the financial reports, mail out W-2’s to our staff, and send 1099’s to contractors.”


What do you get when you cross a Program Director, a Volunteer Manager, and a Janitor? Answer: A situation that is not too uncommon in most nonprofit organizations.


A Development Director found a magic lamp. A genie appeared and offered one wish. The DD said, “I wish for one million dollars to support my organization.” Done, said the genie, come to your office tomorrow, and it’ll be there. Next day, she came to the office, and when she opened the door, three million binder clips fell out. “What the hell!” she said to the genie, “I asked for one million dollars!” Yes, said the genie, but you didn’t specify that it couldn’t be in-kind…


All right, I’ll keep writing more jokes until I have enough to take the show on the road. Please post your jokes in the comment section. (Update: See “More classic jokes to tell at parties” for more hilarious nonprofit jokes.)

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  • Nancy

    I like the retreat idea. I’ll use it next time I’m asked to facilitate one.

    • Me too. I’m trying to find a teambuilding company that does retreats in Hawaii.

      • Nancy

        Let’s start the company. The first exercise is the team makes their own way to Hawai’i by sea canoe. Those that do make it will be amazing teams by the time they arrive. Success! Job done. Vacation time for the company owners!

        • Nancy, you’re brilliant. I love your no-nonsense philosophy on team-building: If you survive the trip, you’re now a really great team.

          • Roy Gathercoal

            If you don’t survive, you won’t oppose our choice for your replacement, or say anything bad about the organization!

      • Chris Corrigan

        I run a consulting firm. One April Fool’s Day we were going to put up an offering of entirely satirical exercises like this one: Real Life Trust Simulation Exercise. Directions: each person takes a turn standing in the middle of a circle of the their teammates blindfolded. The facilitator selects a random person. Each person gets a turn in the middle On a signal the person falls back ward and is caught by their team mates. When the random person steps into the middle and is blindfold the facilitator gives a signal to everyone to NOT catch her and just let her hit the floor. Debrief: discuss how this is like our current management team culture.

  • Voice of Reason

    Hahahahaahahaha. These are good. OK, how about a funder joke, or a community engagement joke? So much fodder to work with there. Here’s one. A funder and a nonprofit ED walk into a bar and order coffee. The funder says she is interested in programs that make real impact. The ED tells her about a new initiative that in 3 years will transform a problem, serve hundreds of people, and provide a model for systems to adopt around the region. It will cost just $100,000. The funder asks the ED whether he can achieve these outcomes in 1 year with $10,000, and not spend any of that money on existing staff. (Rim shot)

    • Hahaha. I’ve been in that situation.

  • cpetersky

    A man was delivering penguins to the zoo when his truck broke down on the highway. A fellow stopped to see if he could be of assistance. “Oh, I’m in some real trouble here” said the truck driver. “I’ve got to take these penguins to the zoo today, and now I’m not sure I’ll get there.”

    The helpful fellow volunteered to put the penguins in the back of his SUV and take them to the zoo. The truck driver gratefully accepted this offer and promised to get to the zoo himself, as soon as possible.

    After some repairs, the truck driver was on the road again and went immediately to the zoo to make sure that the penguins had been delivered properly. He looked everywhere but did not see the helpful fellow or any of the penguins. In a panic, he took off to head back to where he had the breakdown. He had only gone a few blocks away from the zoo, when he saw the “volunteer” walking across the street with all the penguins waddling along behind him.

    He stopped the truck, and yelled from the window, “What are you doing here? I thought you were going to take the penguins to the zoo!” and the volunteer replied, “I did, and we had such a good time there, we decided to get some ice cream.”

    Moral: When working with volunteers, clear instructions and good training is always necessary.

    • Ahahahaha. That’s hilarious. And very cute.

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  • disqus_E0G9N1oPTT

    I’m pretty sure I’ve told that one about the PD, VM, & Janitor before (though I substituted “parent” for janitor). It made people sad. Which is actually what I was trying to do for our annual giving campaign. Argh.

    • It’s a universal dilemma. For a while at VFA, we had a Development Director/HR Director/Finance Manager/Office Manager

      • disqus_E0G9N1oPTT

        Let me guess – until your funder determined that you couldn’t delegate that much for administrative costs, right?!

        • Ahahaha. It’s so true and sad, it’s funny. Sigh…

        • Taritoone

          Or wait – the board fired the DD/HRD/FM/OM for not being able to stay on top of organizational priorities

      • Tanya Potter

        Agreed! Completely relatable. I am currently the volunteer coordinator, intern supervisor, lgbtq outreach coordinator, I.T. specialist, data entry, web developer, head of social media, events coordinator, and fundraiser. I work 31 hours per week.

  • kathywertheim

    I’m a fundraiser so I have fundraising jokes. Here’s one:

    The circus show is in town, and it includes a big huge guy, the circus strongman. As the close to his act featuring feats of strength, he proceeds to squeeze every drop out of a lemon. The circus master then says, “If anyone here can get one more drop out of this lemon, just a single drop, I will give you $100.” A huge bodybuilder guy steps up and he tries, he really tries, but he can’t get another drop out of the lemon. A second guy, even bigger, also tries, and he also fails. Then a little guy steps up, and the whole audience laughs. Who is he to even try? He squeezes the lemon and out gushes a lot of juice. Everyone gasps and the circus master says, “Who are you?” and the little guy replies, “I’m a fund raiser.”

    Here’s a real life joke. I was fundraising for the American Red Cross National Headquarters. My mother asked me, “Are some disasters worse than others?” I said, “No, mom. If you’re in Mississippi you prepare for floods. If you’re in LA you prepare for quakes. So, no, there’s not a disaster that’s worse than others.” Then my father spoke up and said, “United Way cuts your funding, now THAT’S a disaster!”

    I’ve always thought someone should do a book of cartoons and nonprofit jokes, particularly around fundraising. Maybe that’s you!

    • Thanks, Kathy! Love them. Once I’m done with this nonprofit musical, I think that book of nonprofit cartoon and jokes sounds great!

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