Chief executives' body Acevo has secured funding to begin developing a third sector leadership unit.
The centre will provide advice and support to the sector's current and future leaders and lobby to increase the profile of charities.
The funding comes after Acevo published a survey showing that six out of ten charity chief executives were groomed outside the voluntary sector, prompting criticism that it does not do enough to nurture its own leaders.
Financial services company Zurich has given £20,000 to produce a business plan for the project, and pledged a further £35,000 if match funding can be obtained from the Government.
The centre will work with NCVO, the Active Communities Directorate, the DfES and the Sector Skill Development Agency.