Mandatory Community Service


Mandatory Community Service

Mandatory community service programs and policies require participants to perform specified number of hours of service in the community in order to receive concrete benefits or to avoid serious consequences. This can include the completion of community service hours to graduate from high school or to receive social assistance. It can also stand as an alternative to prison time.

While some non-profit organizations have often found it challenging to manage the administrative requirements for some of these programs, many have found the programs to be a great source of new energy. And while some participants have difficulty finding meaningful community service placements, many others have found community service beneficial to them on personal levels.


Volunteer Canada wrote a series of papers on mandatory community service. Each one looks at the issue and lays out best practices.

  • Exploring the Theme — The first paper in the series. This document looks at differences between mandatory community service and volunteering.
  • A Discussion Paper — The second paper in the series. This document explores how mandatory community service differs from volunteering. It includes a lengthy reference list.
  • Implications for Volunteer Program Management — The third and final paper. This document discusses best practices for managing mandatory community service participants within organizations.