The importance of a resource base for trying to organize is hard to overstate. Much of the reason so much of the 'left' (such as it is) is based on or around campuses is resources: who else has the time, the space (I mean literally, the rooms), the opportunities.
Well, there are other bases. The churches, for example. Much of the Central America solidarity movement in the 1980s was organized through churches. I guess much of the very early civil rights movement in the US was organized around churches.
Of course, liberal non-governmental organizations and political organizations have tremendous resources and can provide these on occasion for real movement work. The anti-globalization movement of the 1990s and the WSFs are related to this resource base.
Still another base, and perhaps the most potentially powerful, is still the unions. Even the small percentage of the workforce that is unionized provides tremendous resources to major national organizations with major infrastructures, whose principal political activity seems to be supporting parties who have more contempt for working people even than the union bureaucracy does.
Every once in a while one of these bases provides enough resources to start something that takes on a life and a momentum of its own. That is what happened with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty some 15 years ago now. Begun with a tiny bit of union funding to organize some anti-poverty actions, OCAP took on a life of its own -- and indeed became very critical of the limited resistance being offered by these unions that have such potential power (see this interview for some of that critique). But while OCAP definitely has a life of its own, including a movement base and an absolutely crucial function, the resource base has been drained away from it, and OCAP has been forced, as radical groups seem frequently to be forced, to rely on the most tenuous resource base -- small donations from activists and sympathetic people. Below is their latest appeal for help with sustainable funding...