The NCVO wants to set up an open university for the voluntary sector.
The initiative, which would not be related to the actual Open University, would allow people to engage in sector-related research through correspondence.
"We're talking about something in the style of the Open University that people could access remotely and in their own time," said Pete Moorey, NCVO parliamentary and media manager.
The NCVO suggested the idea to the Government in its response to the ongoing Third Sector Review. It also asked the Government to support the creation of voluntary sector research units within universities.
Anne Longfield, chief executive of 4Children, responded to the review by calling for a community fund to boost community enterprise and a third sector innovation fund.