Directory of Social Change founder Luke FitzHerbert has questioned whether funnelling hundreds of millions of pounds into the sector through infrastructure groups is the best use of the money.
"We have ChangeUp with its hubs, Futurebuilders and now the announcement by the Big Lottery Fund of another £170m for infrastructure support," he said. "Yet very often a local group seeking advice is at least as likely to approach a specialist umbrella body that knows about its own field of work as it is to go to the local CVS."
His scepticism comes just as the fifth hub has been given the go-ahead by the Home Office.
The performance improvement hub is advertising for nine posts, including a chair, a co-ordinator and an executive officer. The DSC has not applied to be part of any hub.
FitzHerbert pointed out that the hubs, which are generally led by umbrella bodies such as the NCVO and the NACVS, tend to exclude specialist organisations such as Youth Clubs UK or Riding for the Disabled.
Even national federations such as the Scout Association or Mencap have largely been sidelined, he said.
"These are seen locally as typical infrastructure organisations giving practical support to many local organisations," he said.
"But this kind of body does not seem to feature in the rather closed shop of infrastructure support debate."