He Meant to Donate $150 to a Charity. He Mistakenly Gave $15,000.

Bangladesh Relief
People in Bangladesh thanking Reddit users who contributed to Bangladesh Relief’s fundraiser on GoFundMe.

A California man and his wife had recently moved into a new apartment building in San Francisco when they met a neighbor who is a Hindu priest.

The priest, Jeff Dunan, 77, told the man about an organization he volunteers for, Bangladesh Relief – which provides food, clothing and essential supplies to underprivileged people in northern Bangladesh.

The man decided to donate to Dunan’s GoFundMe campaign, and settled on $150, thinking that was the right amount to give.

“I thought it was a good cause, and a neighborly thing to do,” said Michael, 31, who asked to be referred to only by his first name for privacy reasons, saying he preferred to divert attention away from himself and toward the cause.

Shortly after making his donation on the GoFundMe campaign that day in February 2022, though, Michael received a notification from his credit card company, warning him of a suspiciously large transaction. He swiped to open the text message, which alerted him to a $15,041 charge from GoFundMe.

“It was just a complete typo screw up,” he said in an interview with The Washington Post this week, owning his mistake. When he saw the five-figure number, “I was so bewildered.”

Soon, it all made sense. Michael’s credit card number started with four and one. Clearly, he said, he accidentally began typing his credit card information while his cursor was still in the donation box.

Michael called GoFundMe’s support line in a panic and explained the mistaken donation. To his relief, he was told he would be refunded for the mishap within three to seven business days.

Still, there was a major complication: The $15,000 donation – which more than doubled the total amount raised at the time – would remain on the GoFundMe page until the refund was processed.

“I was like, ‘Oh no, that’s a problem,'” Michael recalled, adding that he planned to call Dunan to explain.

But before he had the chance to do that, he started receiving Facebook notifications and messages from Shohag Chandra, the charity’s Bangladesh-based program manager, thanking him profusely for his substantial donation.

“The man had sent me a video of himself from Bangladesh, surrounded by dozens of impoverished and hungry people holding bags of food, thanking me BY NAME,” Michael wrote in a Reddit post about a month ago, documenting what happened. “I start swiping through the man’s messages, and it is picture after picture after picture of poor Bangladeshis thanking me for my kind donation.”

Dunan and his colleagues in Bangladesh were blown away by the sizable donation – which was far beyond what they had ever received in the past.

“We were floored,” said Dunan, who became involved with the charity three years ago.

Looking through the photos of people holding thank-you signs that said his name, Michael’s heart sank. He felt terrible that he had to revoke his hefty donation, and even though he still intended to contribute the $150 he had originally planned to give, he wanted to offer more.

“I felt so bad about the mistake that I made,” said Michael. “I was definitely stressing about it.”

Once his original contribution was refunded, he decided to donate $1,500.

Dunan was understanding about the accident, and grateful for Michael’s still-significant donation – which, he told him, would make a meaningful impact.

“Any donation, any size, goes a long way,” Dunan said.

The charity’s leaders in Bangladesh, too, were thankful for Michael’s revised donation.

“That is a lot for us,” said Chandra, explaining that the organization supports “millions of the poorest and most needy people in Bangladesh,” where more than 20 percent of the population lives below the national poverty line.

“We are really thankful,” he said, calling Michael the “most kindhearted person.”

Although Michael had told family and friends about the typo tale in the months that followed the mishap, he decided to share the saga publicly on Reddit, after Dunan recently told him the organization was desperately in need of funds.

“The least I could do was take the time to post this story online and see if I can inspire other people to donate to this cause,” Michael said.

Little did he know, though, that the story would be seen far and wide, garnering more than $120,000 for Bangladesh Relief in the span of only a few weeks – about eight times Michael’s mistaken donation.

As Michael’s post gained momentum on Reddit and other social media sites – including YouTube, where the Smosh Pit channel featured the story – donations to a new GoFundMe campaign poured in. According to Dunan, more than 3,700 people have contributed because of Michael’s post.

“We’re astonished that there are this many people that have the heart to share what they can,” said Dunan. “We’ve had a wave of support that has superseded anything we’ve attempted to do so far.”

When people donated, they left lighthearted comments, such as: “we’re all here to make up for Michael’s mistake.”

Many people also drew parallels between Michael’s mistake and “The Office” “Scott’s Tots” episode, in which the character Michael Scott could not keep his promise to pay for the college tuition of an entire third grade class.

“Definitely a funny coincidence that we are both Michael,” said Michael, adding that he had “so much fun reading the comments,” and couldn’t stop refreshing the GoFundMe page to see the rising total.

“We love that Michael’s story inspired others to rally behind this fundraiser and multiply his generosity,” said Sarah Peck, GoFundMe’s senior director of public affairs.

Now, Bangladesh Relief is planning to expand its services beyond food relief, clothing and supplies to include medication for those in need. The funds will also go toward supporting local orphans.

“By his donations, our programs are going in a good position,” said Chandra, explaining that the people the charity serves are already reaping the benefits of the increased funding. “They are very grateful. You can see it.”

To everyone who has contributed to the campaign, Chandra said, “We are really thankful for you. This is unforgettable.”

Michael said he has been stunned by the ongoing outpouring of support.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine this reaction,” he said. “People can be amazing when they come together for something like this.”