The Cabinet Office has appointed Dame Mary Marsh to oversee a review into leadership and skills in the voluntary sector.
Marsh is the founding director of the Clore Social Leadership Programme and before that spent eight years as chief executive of NSPCC. Last month, she was awarded the Luke FitzHerbert Lifetime Achievement Award at the Third Sector Excellence Awards.
She will investigate how businesses and professionals can share their expertise with charities and social enterprises, and recommend ways in which the sector can improve and maintain its skills.
A statement from the Cabinet Office said Marsh will receive support from "a range of stakeholders and key representatives in the sector" that will be finalised soon.
The review is expected to report back in the spring.
In a statement, Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society, said: "Charities and social enterprises must meet the reality of tough economic conditions head on and be ready to play a greater role in the delivery of public services, if they are to fulfil their potential and help create a better, stronger society. I have asked Dame Mary Marsh, with her long history of leadership in this field, to examine how the capabilities that exist now will need to adapt if the sector is to successfully navigate the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead."
Marsh said: "All of us who are committed to securing effective social action know that there is an urgent need for us to gain new skills to lead and contribute in a radically changed context. We are challenged to do things differently, learn from those doing this most effectively and look forward to be more prepared to take advantage of the emerging changes ahead. The review must help us focus on the most urgent gaps in our capability and find smart ways of overcoming them."
Nobody from the the Cabinet Office was available to say how much Marsh will be paid.