Faced with anxieties about meeting welfare needs, and worries about the nature and meaning of citizenship, there is evidence of increasing state-initiated moves to develop the role and responsibilities of voluntary associations. Existing research suggests, however, that there are tensions between the spatial distribution of voluntary resources and welfare needs, and that the relationship between voluntary activity and active citizenship is more complex than is often acknowledged. Focusing on the voluntary welfare sector in Glasgow, the authors first examine the uneven distribution of voluntary activity across the city and its relationship to `need'. Although in contrast to previous research this reveals strong representation of voluntary organisations in deprived areas of the city (largely as a result of state funding programmes), important tensions and conflicts remain between where organisations are funded to provide services and the needs of vulnerable populations. In the second part of the paper the relationship between voluntarism and citizenship in Glasgow is examined. Highlighting the existence of a distinction between 'grass-roots' and 'corporatist' voluntary organisations, the authors illustrate the ways in which voluntarism can be associated with both the empowerment and the disempowerment of citizens. In the conclusions it is emphasised that developments in Glasgow resonate with wider concerns about the impact of welfare reform on the voluntary sector.