The study found that many CVSs and other second-tier organisations - groups that are set up to provide support to others - are overworked and have lost their sense of purpose.
A squeeze on government funding could lead to a further deterioration, suggests the study, carried out by consultants Steven Burkeman and Alison Harker.
Harker and Burkeman said: "It is likely to be increasingly difficult for these organisations to raise funds from local authorities, primary care trusts and other statutory funders, given the pressure on those bodies to show that money is achieving improvements in public services."
A spokesman for Navca, the umbrella body for local infrastructure organisations, said there was a joint responsibility on local councils and second-tier organisations to raise standards.
"Local government must invest more money in better support services, and local infrastructure organisations must drive up the quality of their work," he said.