This story happened in the mid-1980s somewhere in South Carolina. A friend whose parents witnessed the event told their son who told me. It is the most amazing church fundraising story I've ever heard.
It seems that a small church wanted to raise $1.5 million for a new building. The Finance Committee and Building Committee met, reviewed the options and potential and then came to a church business meeting to make their presentation. Everyone felt that the new building was very much needed and then it came time to vote on whether or not to do a fundraiser.
During the Q&A time before the vote, several pertinent questions were fielded. But then one of the older, most respected men of the congregration stood and began to speak. He spoke slowly and deliberately, "Well, let's see. I tell you what. I'll give half a million dollars if Fred over there gives half a million." All heads immediately turned to Fred to see if he would accept Sam's challenge. Fred stood up and spoke, "Hmmm, okay. I'll give half a million if Bob here gives half a million." Again, in unison, all heads turned to look at Bob who stood up. "Yeah, I'll give half a million." The congregation erupted in applause for these three men and the fundraiser was officially over!
I like this story for several reasons: its fun, funny, very true to life, shows the most church members can give more than they think, should help pastors realize that some church members have very deep pockets and will give if asked (but pastors are scared to talk about money), and finally it demonstrates the leadership of three respected older gentlemen. They had no problem talking about money (each knew what the other could afford) and when given the opportunity to give their money to something worthwhile, they stood up.
I encourage all ministers to cultivate wealthy members. Have lunch with them periodically. Ask them to teach you how to manage money but more importantly how to talk about money with others. These men and women will be glad to oblige - we've just got to ask.