Less than half of charities surveyed by the Charities Aid Foundation believe that Prime Minister David Cameron's big society vision will work, even if given sufficient resources.
Forty-six per cent of the 266 CAF charity customers polled in August said they thought the big society ideas were achievable if they were provided with sufficient funds.
The same poll found that two-thirds of charities feared their finances would be hit in the coming year. Of those, 56 per cent expected an increase in costs, 43 per cent believed they would be hit by public sector cuts, 41 per cent predicted a drop in voluntary donations, and 38 per cent said they thought there would be an increase in demand for their services.
Just over a fifth of those polled thought government plans for the big society would empower local communities and encourage more people to volunteer.
John Low, chief executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, said: "There is clearly support from many charities for the government's vision of a big society and charities can play a big part in making it happen.
"However, if charities are hit by a triple whammy of public sector cuts, a drop in donations and increased demand for their services, due to factors such as rising unemployment, it will be hard for them to help.
"I urge local authorities to make cuts wisely, remove wasteful constraints and not just focus on the short term."