Forty-three per cent of respondents in a survey carried out for the Social Enterprise Coalition thought "a community business that reinvests its profits to improve services" or a social enterprise were best placed ro run public services.
The YouGov survey, which polled just under 2,000 adults in March this year, also found that 36 per cent of respondents thought central and local government organisations were best placed to deliver services.
Only 4 per cent thought private sector organisations would be best placed, and 3 per cent chose charities.
"It's hugely encouraging to the social enterprise movement that the public seems to instinctively understand what social enterprise offers when it comes to public services," said Peter Holbrook, chief executive of the coalition.
But Holbrook said he was worried that many social enterprises likely to be set up to run public services would not have a strong asset lock to protect them from acquisition by private sector companies.
Ralph Michell, head of policy at the sector chief executives body Acevo, said he was not concerned by the apparently low support for charities delivering public services.
"Most charities delivering public services meet the definition of a community business," he said. "What this does show is that people are opposed to the private sector running more services."