Charities and voluntary groups that receive government funding must become "more savvy" about the way they work, according to Tim Loughton, the children's minister.
Delivering the annual Edith Kahn memorial lecture, organised by the volunteering charity CSV in London last night, Loughton said the relationship between the government and the voluntary sector had to be rethought.
"There is a trade-off in the sense that the voluntary sector itself needs to become more savvy about the way it works, particularly where it is being supported by government money," he said. "And we in turn, need to think smarter about how we use the voluntary sector in local services."
He said he was encouraging local councils to consider using voluntary and community organisations to provide services for young people.
"Volunteering and acts of charity have become a less and less visible feature of our national conscience," he said. "They have been largely forgotten and bypassed by successive governments who have tended to ignore the good and focus on the bad when they design and institute policy."