New research is to examine how credit unions are facing up to a greater demand for their services.
The project, by Paul Jones at Liverpool's John Moores University, is funded by a £48,000 grant from the Co-operative Action Foundation.
Jones said: "Credit Unions are now sophisticated co-operative financial organisations, beginning to employ professional staff, opening new premises and developing quality financial services that are attractive to a much larger cross-section of the population."
Credit unions now have to deal with new regulations and legislation from the Financial Services Authority.
The research will use case studies, focus groups, seminars, and interviews to examine the changing roles and responsibilities of volunteers within the British credit union movement.
This is the first piece of research on this subject since a report by Paul Jones in 1998.
"This is a critical area where better understanding will benefit not only credit unions, but also a wider audience," said Jones.