Organisations that fail to get to grips with Local Area Agreements are doomed, delegates heard.
"If we don't get involved in these outcomes, we're history," said Tony Mullen of the Community Empowerment Network Knowsley.
By 2007, all local authorities will have LAAs, which are designed to simplify funding arrangements by reducing the number of funding streams.
Voluntary organisations that fail to engage with the local government agenda could find their funding seriously reduced.
Stuart Smith, former chair of CEN, said LAAs were "a backward step" that gave only token representation to charities. Caroline Schwaller, of Keighley Voluntary Services, one of 21 pilot LAAs, disagreed.
"There was never a sense that we weren't included," she said.