Geoff Mulgan, former head of policy at Number 10, is to chair a new inquiry into the future of civil society funded by the Carnegie Trust UK.
The review, which was officially launched at the Civicus World Assembly in Glasgow, will address what Mulgan calls "new threats" against civil society groups.
"Civil society is always in competition with governments, big business and the media for hearts, minds, resources and sometimes even power," said Mulgan, who also founded think tank Demos. "We will be looking across the board to find organisations that are healthy and those that should be improved."
Giving the example of civil society organisations dealing with children's issues, Mulgan said the culture of commerce was becoming "very intrusive".
He added that voluntary sector groups throughout Britain were at the "core" of civil society and should be able to maintain their independence in the face of stronger powers.
The review will begin this autumn and will last for 18 months.