Charities are being urged to give their views on the topics that should be researched to help them be more effective.
Charity Futures, the voluntary sector think tank led by Sir Stephen Bubb, announced today that it would begin consulting charities, foundations and donors next month.
The consultancy Giving Evidence will carry out the consultation, which will start with focus groups in London, Edinburgh, Bradford, Manchester and Cardiff.
Bubb said: "Too often research in the charity sector is not focused on what matters to charities and donors. We need to remedy this.
"High-quality, relevant, future-looking research has a big part to play in making the sector stronger, and our consultation will give donors and charities a unique chance to shape the research agenda in support of their work."
Bubb said he hoped the initiative would encourage more universities and academic centres to study charity and philanthropy.
"At the moment academia does not take much interest in charity," he said. "This must change."
An advisory group of funders, private donors, researchers, charity leaders and umbrella bodies will support the project, which will include an online questionnaire over summer asking charities about the types of problems they're experiencing and how better research might help.
The initiative will conclude by the end of the year with a prioritised list of research questions, which it is hoped researchers will use to influence their work.
Caroline Fiennes, director of Giving Evidence, which supports evidence-based giving, said: "This study seems to be the first time that anybody has systematically consulted the people whom academic research about charities and philanthropy aims to help and influence.
"We shall be using a rigorous research design, based on the model created by the James Lind Alliance for prioritising research topics in medicine.
"This method is new to the charity and philanthropy worlds, but has become well established over more than a decade in medicine."