Smile Train, Inc.

Rating: 2.55 stars   76 reviews

Issues: Children & Youth, Health, International

Location: 41 Madison Ave 28th Floor New York NY 10010 USA

Mission: Smile Train is an international children’s charity with a sustainable approach to a single, solvable problem: cleft lip and palate. Millions of children in developing countries with unrepaired clefts live in shame, but more importantly, have difficulty eating, breathing and speaking. Cleft repair surgery is simple, and the transformation is immediate. Our sustainable model provides training and funding to empower local doctors in 85+ developing countries to provide 100%-free cleft repair surgery in their communities. We use the “teach a man to fish” model focusing on training local doctors to perform cleft repairs in their communities. Those doctors then go on to train other doctors creating a long-term, sustainable system. Patients see their smile for the first time, parents cry tears of joy, lives and communities are changed forever. As a result of our efficiency and with the support of our donors and partners around the world, Smile Train has transformed the lives of more than one million children by giving them the power of a smile -- that's roughly 350 surgeries a day and 128,000+ every year. Join us and change the world one smile at a time.
Results: Since its beginning in 1999 Smile Train has provided more than 1,000,000 free surgeries for children who would otherwise never have received it.
Target demographics: children suffering from cleft lips and palates
Direct beneficiaries per year: 127,000+
Geographic areas served: 85+ of the world’s poorest countries

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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars   Featured Review

3 people found this review helpful

Smile Train is a wonderful organization. I really love the mission and seeing how a simple surgery opens the door for these kids, giving them the chance to rise to their full potential. The staff I have interacted with are all incredibly caring and dedicated, and the charity accomplishes an amazing amount with relatively few people. By all accounts the new leadership has the organization more focused and efficient than ever. Absolutely one of the best charities out there.

How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Very Well

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you recommend this organization to others?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

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Rating: 2 stars  

6 people found this review helpful

I have given to Smile Train for many years. Once you give to this charity you are antedated with mail asking for more money. The AIP gives them a B- rating which is not good. The reason for this rating is because a small % is actually used to help the children.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Spend less on VIP salaries/overhead and more to help the children with this defect.

Was your donation impactful?

Unlikely

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

No

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

No

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

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Rating: 5 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

What a privilege to support this AMAZING organization! It's amazing when you recognize the incredible impact this organization makes on the children and families they serve. The fact that they can have this sort of impact for an average of $250 per surgery is stunning!

Congratulations on your great success Smile Train! You make a meaningful impact on a daily basis to the lives of millions.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

None, that I'm aware of.

Was your donation impactful?

Definitely

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

Definitely

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

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Review from Guidestar
Rating: 1 stars  

10 people found this review helpful

Please read this before you ever give to Smile Train again: http://www.charitywatch.org/articles/smiletrain.html

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Fire the CEO and the Executive Director who makes over a 1/3 of a million dollars annually plus benefits and travel vouchers!

Would you volunteer for this group again?

No

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

None

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Badly

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

No

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 1 stars  

15 people found this review helpful

I have given over a grand to what I had considered a worthy cause. Pres. Brian takes almost 700 thou. from this charity, a ludicrous amount. 2,800 cleft repairs are denied to push Brian into the enviable 1% of top takers. I was suspicious of his constant fundraising and his long standing at the helm of a charity. He should have moved on by now, so I did some digging and learned why he stayed, Smile Train is a pork train to anyone taking outrageous "compensation". I am sure Brian never left the office exhausted nor did anyone else. Why are they not part of Operation Smile????? I am a retired attorney and I shall follow through with the appropriate NY authorities. All compensation for staff at non profits should be spelled out prominently on their web site and not require an investigative journalist to seek out unconscionable gouging. Everyone opens their hearts and minds to these deserving children. Shame and more shame on profiteers!!!!!!!!

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Have volunteer top managers from business and academia serve one year, unpaid terms and move on. No professional, non profit porkers need apply!!!!! Non profit salaries for top "executives" have become ludicrous almost without exception. The Salvation Army is almost without blemish and Jean Kroc rewarded their fine work with infrastructure bequests, not confiscatory salaries.

Was your donation impactful?

Unsure

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

Unlikely

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

Unlikely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 1 stars  

10 people found this review helpful

$250 per child.
approximately 120,000 children helped last year.
That's $30,000,000.
They raised almost $200,000,000 according to Forbes.
They spend $170,000,000 on everything, except helping the kids.
Only 15% of the money goes to the kids.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Be more transparent about their financials. Post them on the web. Come clean. Replace the corrupt individuals.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

No

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

A lot

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

#thepowerofasmile
Smile Train not only changes lives for people born with a cleft lip and palate it educates Dr.'s, Nurses, and the public on the stigma of being born with a cleft. Smile Train has created a model that gives back by empowering. I am honored to say that many of my family members and friends give to this organization.
I myself was born with a cleft palate and enjoy seeing the SMILES that are created by such a wonderfully powerful organization!
#thepowerofasmile

Sandy Kreif

Was your donation impactful?

Definitely

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

Definitely

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 1 stars  

7 people found this review helpful

I made a donation to Smile Train about 10 months ago. I have been bombarded with constant emails and mail requesting more donations. i took myself off of their email list but once in awhile still get an email but even worse is constant mail requests. I wrote them a letter asking them to take me off of their list and got another letter a couple of weeks later. This is a more than once a month, more like 3 times a month maybe 4 times request via mail for more donations. I wrote another letter to Smile Train asking that they take me off their list and hopefully this will work. I will never donate again to them fearing that this constant barrage will start all over again. I donated to St. Judes Children Hospital in Mephis and they are very respectful in sending me a once in awhile request for a donation. Smile Train would get a zero on the above rating if that was possible!

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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

Smile Train Rocks! I was introduced to this wonderful organization as I traveled the country as a motivational speaker at many huge national dental conferences. I was so touched by the professionals who generously gave their time, love and expertise to travel to perform critical surgeries. These missions of love enable thousands of children to finally get relief from birth deformaties that prevent them from eating and drinking normally. Not only does Smile Train help them nourish their bodies, but it helps them nourish their souls---some of them actually smiling for the first time--finally unafraid to show their faces. Can you imagine being so ashamed of how you look that you stifle one of the most endearing traits of childhood: a beaming smile! I cried when I thought of how miserable that must feel when they had nothing to do with causing this deformity to happen.
I'm in the same business: as a humorist & Leadership / Staff Engagement Specialist, I travel the world helping people smile in the face of uncertanty...sometimes even when we don't know what's around the next corner. Smile Train brings more than just smiles to these kids; it forms a cornerstone foundation of self esteem and confidence, which can change a kid's life...so they, in turn, can change ours! One way I feel I can make a difference in the lives of these kids is to donate a portion of my speaking proceeds to Smile Train. Another way is to keep letting others know what a great cause it is! Keep up the great work! Kelli V.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Increase the publicity/marketing, so more people would know about it!

How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Very Well

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you recommend this organization to others?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

Smile Train is a charity near and dear to our hearts. They do tremendous work around the world saving lives by providing free surgeries to children and adults suffering from clefts. I was just in NYC and was able to visit the office and meet the people behind the scenes. I was impressed with everyone I met and feel like these people are dedicated to such a great cause. My family and I are very excited about continuing to fundraise for the Smile Train and hope to become even more involved in the future. I highly recommend this charity!

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