Good questions, Tom. I'm sure the process has come a long way in a few thousand years.
I can't answer a question that open ended, but you make a great point. Many of the people of the past that we know of commonly today we're believe it or not little known in their day. We cannot make the mistake of looking into the past through our modern eyes. Many accomplishments of our ancestors were thought little of or even ridiculed in their own time.
Let's take someone like Martin Luther, or Calvin. They both had a certain amount of fame in their own time but the true significance of their ideas could not be appreciated until today. So it is easy to look back and mistakenly believe that they must have been the most famous people in the world. They were not kings or rulers in their time yet very few kings or rulers have had a greater impact on our times today. So we have actually made them famous in our times by our modern understanding of their significance, something that could never have happened until long after they were deceased.
Compu, when I wrote that OP I was more concerned about the funding than about the fame. Had more people replied, the details I would have added by now would have made that clear.
Really it does seem God needs lots of money. God is very rich and very famous. Though this not speak to your intent.