The Advertising Association, the umbrella body representing the advertising industry, is consulting charities about how advertisers can improve their work on good causes.
The association said yesterday that it was not keen to pursue a government proposal to create an independent not-for-profit body similar to the Ad Council in the US, to which advertisers would donate time and resources after receiving bids from organisations wanting to receive help in terms of manpower or advertising space.
But the association did say it was "extremely interested" in exploring other ways in which it could do more to support a social agenda.
"The industry is keen to help, but we don't think this is the right way to do it," said Ian Barber, director of communications at the association. "We're keen to do more, and we want to get the third sector around the table."
Barber said the government would spend less in future on advertising as a tool to tackle social issues and the slack would have to be taken up by other bodies, largely charities.
He said the association was talking to charities about how advertisers could support charities in providing those services.
"We're not sure what the best way to support the social agenda is at the moment," said Barber. "There are several ways we think this might work, but not the one the government has proposed."