The consultation is part of a review of methods of funding of the sector by the department, which said the review would not affect the level of funding.
A spokeswoman for the DoH described its funding arrangements, which are worth £80m annually, as "uncoordinated and piecemeal". She said the department wanted to rationalise the funding streams to create a "more coherent portfolio of strategic investment in the sector".
The consultation proposes that investments should be underpinned by principles such as equality, inclusivity and accessibility, and that funding programmes should recognise the principles set out in the Compact, the agreement between the Government and the voluntary sector.
The consultation will run until 20 March 2008. Details are available at: www.dh.gov.uk.