Comic relief in the nonprofit sector

Comic relief: relief from tension caused by the introduction or occurrence of a comic element.

A couple of months ago I read a wonderful post by blogger Akhila Kolisetty titled Activism and alienation; the gift and curse of empathy. In it, she describes how the gift of empathy can quickly overwhelm and incapacitate one. However, she ends the post on a positive note with this beautiful line: “But the path to social justice lies not in allowing empathy to overtake me, but in channeling this gift of emotion for the moments I need it – imbuing my work with the love and strength it deserves.”

Working for a nonprofit is no joke. You are faced with heart breaking stories and limited resources on a regular basis. However, this is exactly why I think that laughter in the nonprofit sector is especially important. I have found that laughter plays an important role in keeping the gift/curse of empathy from becoming overwhelming. I think allowing for moments of comic relief will not only help bring some balance, but will also make us better nonprofit employees. Why?

  • You can relieve some stress, allowing you to get a better grip of the projects at hand
  • Being in a better mood can help you work more effectively with your team
  • Laughing with your team can help increase team morale
  • It can also help avoid getting burned out

Most importantly though, if you’re in a better mood you’ll be able to provide your clients much better service!

Whatever you do, don’t allow yourself to get so consumed in your cause that you never have time to laugh. Take a mental break, step away from the cause for a moment and find something to laugh about. Share a funny story with a coworker, read Planet 501(c)3 (a comic strip about the nonprofit sector), or flip to Comedy Central. Whatever your preference is, just make sure that while you’re out there changing the world, you make time for a good laugh. Remember, your also making the world a better place by sharing a smile/laugh 🙂

Not convinced? Check out the Mayo Clinic’s article Stress relief from laughter? Yes, no joke.


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