The two said they had set up a steering group comprising trustees and senior staff from both charities. It will consult staff and trustees from the two organisations about the possibility of a merger.
Recommendations from the group will be considered at the groups’ respective annual general meetings in the autumn, with any decision over merger requiring approval from both sets of members.
Navca employs 18 staff and has an annual turnover of £1.5m, a spokesman for the organisation said. Community Matters has 11 staff and had a turnover of £1.8m in 2010/11.
Both organisations have made large reductions to their staffing levels over the past two years – Community Matters previously had 21 staff members and Navca had 37.
David Tyler, chief executive of Community Matters, said that although talks were at an early stage the prospect of a merger was an exciting one.
"Now, more than ever, local voluntary and community action needs the united national voice and coherent support that a merger between Navca and Community Matters offers," he said.
"The vast majority of voluntary organisations are small, but they are the lifeblood of the whole sector. They currently face unprecedented challenges in getting funding, support and a fair hearing. A merger would create a powerful voice to stand up for local organisations and groups."
Mike Martin, chair of Navca, said the two organisations had already worked together and that a merger seemed like an "obvious step".
"We both support local organisations and we are both a national voice championing voluntary and community action," he said. "Importantly, we share the same values.
"However, our work is complementary, not competing, and we have separate memberships that support the full range of local organisations at different levels."