Is there an English word or short phrase for doing good by accident?

By this I mean that I do something to help friend A, and friend B also benefits, without in any way disadvantaging A.

I'm currently calling it collateral blessing, parallel to the military euphemism collateral damage, but the analogy is far from perfect; inter alia, collateral damage refers to a mistake whilst collateral blessing is an unexpected side-effect.


I think the best phrase for the overall phenomenon would be 'side benefit', or 'gravy'.

something good that happens in addition to a main benefit or purpose

something advantageous or valuable that is received or obtained as a benefit beyond what is due or expected.

But there is also the 'ripple effect', which typically pertains to people directly

In sociology, it can be observed how social interactions can affect situations not directly related to the initial interaction, and in charitable activities where information can be disseminated and passed from community to community to broaden its impact.

And there is also 'windfall'. Taken literally, it refers to 'something that has been blown down by the wind'. Figuratively, it refers to

A sudden large benefit; especially, a sudden or unexpected large amount of money, as from lottery or sweepstakes winnings or an unexpected inheritance or gift.

  • The short answer to my question seems to be that there isn't a word or phrase for what I mean; serendipity is good but doesn't (in my understanding) cover the aspect that I was already trying to do something good, and actually did more good than I intended. Windfall [effect] is the closest I have seen.
    – NL_Derek
    Sep 14 '15 at 20:38

Some possbilities:

  • [by] some happy coincidence
  • [by] lucky accident
  • [by] fortunate happenstance
  • [in] a happy turn of events
  • [by] pleasant surprise

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