Confusion over governance is holding back community and small voluntary groups, a study from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has found.
Not only are groups to be held back from playing their "full part in society" but there are contradictions over their support arrangements, the study showed.
The research found that there is no universally accepted definition of "governance" and that the government is adding to the confusion by emphasising different aspects of governance in different policies.
The study was carried out by researchers at the London School of Economics during a one-year project with 20 community groups in four London boroughs.
It found that unsuitable legal frameworks and poor, inappropriate constitutions were a root cause of many of the problems.
It recommended that organisations attempt to establish trust with a development practitioner. Funders are also urged to invest in training about governance.