Umbrella body Community Matters has launched a set of performance standards for community centre charities that are aimed at "reinvigorating the movement".
Entitled 'Visible', the standards commit organisations to be independent and politically neutral, meet local needs and help people become active in communities.
David Tyler, chief executive of Community Matters, said the standards were aimed at "updating the image and remit" of community bodies. But he added that they were also a response to the introduction of standards externally imposed on community groups by funders such as local authorities.
More than 9,000 community centres and village halls are registered as charities, comprising 5 per cent of the total register.