He will be paid £20,000 a year for three or four days’ work a month.
O’Brien will take over from outgoing chair Peter Wheeler but only if the organisation wins the contract to carry on operating the Futurebuilders fund. A Cabinet Office decision is expected in January.
If Futurebuilders fails to land the business, Wheeler will continue as chair until the end of the current contract in April 2008.
O’Brien said Futurebuilders was a unique organisation that could provide lasting support to third sector organisations involved in delivering public services.
“I look forward to helping with its development in the coming years,” he said.
Richard Gutch, chief executive of Futurebuilders, said: “If we win the retender of the management of the Futurebuilders fund for 2008-11, Vince will be leading a robust and experienced board to provide new opportunities for the third sector and deliver a period of growth for the fund.”