Dutch citizens on welfare have to volunteer at Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in return for their benefits. Through applying the ‘worlds of justification’ of Boltanski and Thévenot, this article aims to provide a better theoretical and empirical understanding of social justice of policies that obligate welfare clients to participate in CSOs. The analysis of 51 in-depth interviews with Dutch welfare recipients shows that respondents perceive these policies partly but not unilaterally as unfair. If respondents perceive welfare as ‘free money’ and if they are convinced that civic behavior demands interventions against free riding on welfare resources, ‘mandatory volunteering’ is considered as fair. Our main contribution is to the theoretical debate on recognition and redistribution by showing empirically how ‘othering’ plays an important role in determining when mandatory volunteering becomes a matter of redistribution or recognition.