The voluntary sector is playing a greater role in designing and delivering government policies but its new-found insider status threatens its critical edge, according to a new study.
Research by the Universities of Brighton and Hull shows that the political opportunities for charities have "opened up significantly in recent years".
But the new relationships have "blurred the boundaries between government and the voluntary sectors, creating an uncertainty about roles".
Professor Marilyn Taylor, joint director of the research project, said: "Time and resources are increasingly stretched. And organisations which were set up to act on behalf of particular communities can sometimes find it difficult to maintain that role when they are called on to deliver more services."
Voluntary organisations told the researchers that policies were increasingly decided by No 10 or the Treasury and they often found it hard to be heard alongside other lobbyists and political advisers.