Smile Train, Inc.

Rating: 2.53 stars   77 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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EIN 13-3661416
1-800-932-9541
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Community Reviews

Rating: 1 stars  

17 people found this review helpful

I was going to donate, but after looking at the numbers and 194 million dollar profit this company made, I am not making any donation to keep someone lives in a luxury house on my expense ! Do not expect a penny from me, I will be sending reviews to my friends and family, so they can keep away from these creeps !

Was your donation impactful?

Unsure

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?

2011

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Rating: 4 stars  

11 people found this review helpful

I am in middle class. I don't see it is a big issue if SmileTrain CEO being paid $640,000 as other reviewers said. I used to work at few major high tech companies. As I know most major high tech companies paid new college grad from $43000 to $47000 in Texas and Colorado at 10 years ago, in order to get someone is trainable, detail, and got good GPA with computer engineer degree (no need from top 10 schools). I don't know where Smile Train CEO live, but I know the living cost is not high in Texas and Colorado if compare with the living cost in East or West. So, if the CEO really being paid $640,000, than I will still keep donate as long as he run this organize as well as other reviewer said.

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?

2012

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Rating: 1 stars  

10 people found this review helpful

I have been an active supporter but I'am reconsidering! the CEO's excessive salary is way out of line! I will look else where to give it is such a shame I liked the Charity as always some people get greedy and ruin it!

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?

A little

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Somewhat badly

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Unlikely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

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Rating: 2 stars  

15 people found this review helpful

I saw a mini documentary on the plight of people with cleft palates in the Third World and was very moved. I was anxious to donate but like always, I did some investigating. The president of Smile Train makes nearly double the salary of the president of the American Red Cross. This is important because the American Red Cross has revenues many many times more than the Smile Train. I donated my money to UNICEF instead.

Was your donation impactful?

Unsure

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?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

13 people found this review helpful

I had never been active in charity or nonprofit work prior to this past year, when I had an incredible personal experience with SmileTrain that, to me, proved its worth as a tireless and inspired organization devoted to performing good works. Last July, I traveled to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. While motorbiking through the Tanah Toraja region with a friend, I met a local villager named Natsir who was working as an amateur English teacher in the area. After talking for a bit, he invited us to accompany him to his home in a nearby village. We headed up into the hills to his modest house, where he introduced us to his family, poured us cups of tea, and toured us around his small farm. However, I was deeply affected when I saw that Natsir's youngest son Winner, who was two years old at the time, was suffering from an unrepaired cleft palate. Unfortunately, given the family's lack of financial resources and the region's underdeveloped medical infrastructure, the simple procedure needed to remedy his condition was out of the question.

When I relayed this story to my mom, she knew of SmileTrain and thought perhaps they could help. She was able to get in touch with the SmileTrain field officer in Indonesia who was enthusiastic about the potential to help Winner. Unfortunately, the only information I had to help them locate Natsir was his first name, his profession, and the name of the village in which I had originally met him. It was a long-shot, but I forwarded these details to SmileTrain and hoped for the best.

In January, I received an email from our contact at SmileTrain. Through the tireless efforts of their organization, they were able to locate Natsir and his family in their village! As it turns out, Natsir's other son was also suffering from a cleft palate which I did not notice because he did not have as severe a harelip. Both the boys were granted free corrective surgeries and successfully had their operations on January 14 in the city of Rantepao. Now they are in recovery and, in a short time, will be able to give big fat smiles like never before.

The fact that SmileTrain was able to track down this family in such a remote location with so little information is truly remarkable, and as a result, the lives of these two boys have been completely transformed. This organization is certainly worthy of your support, and my experience showed me that their donations are being put to work exactly where they should be. I cannot sing their praises enough- this is exactly what a charitable organization should be doing.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

Definitely

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

Life-changing

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

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Rating: 1 stars  

24 people found this review helpful

I was waiting in the doctor’s office for my appointment and came across a magazine article for Smiletrain. I was so touched I wanted to donate right away. I just wanted to quickly make sure it was a legitimate charity. After finding out how much the CEO makes a year it was actually possible that I could have over looked it . However I then read a review from someone that was actually trying to make possible donators like me feel guilty by downplaying that Hugh CEO salary and quilting me by stories such as - "what If I where the next child in line for the surgery but the donations ran out". And then thankfully that stupid review snapped me out of my crazy thought process. Because If I where the next child in line for surgery and the donations ran out from people like me that make $28K a year I would have been heartbroken and crushed by a greedy evil CEO. I will continue my search for a charity that is just that a charity.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

1999

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Rating: 4 stars  

11 people found this review helpful

We must not discontinue our support of this incredible charity because of the CEO'S salary increase. I assure you the way he built up smile train, he deserves it. But think of it this way.....even if we assume (and there always are) that there is greed and waste within the charity, what if you were the next child in line to recieve this surgery and were told "Thats it until next year as all our funds are now allocated." What if because you held back your donation, a child is left in disgerace, deformaty and despair. Look, every charity has questionable things about it. But we KNOW for sure this charity saves lives. I will continue to donate $250 each year even if they were to use 50% of that money in expenses! Why? Because every time a person holds back money, somewhere a child suffers. There will be greed and misuse of funds wherever you donate. I personally would rather be dead than to live in a third world country looking deformed and being kept in the house like an animal. We educated people must help. period! And if you dont trust them financially, find out how you can volunteer one summer and perhaps work in one of their offices or hospitals. I am unemployed and feel if I can change one life with my donation, my life will have truly counted. And no I have no affiliation with Smile train. If you dont like this group, "The Heifers" who give money to starving villagers to buy small animals is the next best IMHO. My only beef with this charity is they dont stop soliciting. Too pushy. I donate via check and leave my address off and request they dont mail me anything. I wonder why they do that? Who benefits? Do they own the marketing agency that does the mailings? Still....we must help these forgotten children of the world. I also do this in memory of my mother who passed recently and she donated only to this charity every year.

Was your donation impactful?

Unsure

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

Likely

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

Likely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 1 stars  

4 people found this review helpful

Is smile train aware that someone is calling and not saying anything then hanging up? i am getting these calls once a week and if they dont stop i am going to the better business . the reason i know it s mile train is because i tried calling the numbers back. there is no reason to do this except to give the smile train a bad name. the numbers are 1-866-223-6830 and 1-866-223-7166.

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?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Unsure

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

28 people found this review helpful

There has been a "shake up" at Smile Train, and their highly paid director is gone. (I don't know what his replacement makes.) In the past, Smile Train has claimed that ALL administrative expenses were paid by wealthy board members, and that NONE of the donated funds went to administrative expense. I assumed that was true. I asked them for a project to fund with my Mom's life savings which I inherited. They came up with a project in India which built an addition to a hospital they use, added a radiology department (including purchasing x-ray machine) outfitted a blood bank and hematology department, and outfitted a pathology department. This was done for $85,000. I thought that was a huge amount to do for that cost. I bet you couldn't buy the x-ray machine here alone for that. Some of the equipment purchased is now the only such equipment in a state of India with 35 million people. I have found their field personnel to be outstanding, and good stewards of funds.

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?

2011

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 4 stars  

16 people found this review helpful

I'm an RN, and I have worked with newborns with cleft lips and palates. Most often, this defect is a complete surprise. There are often feeding issues, so it's a difficult time for the families The first surgery in this country is usually done at 3 months of age, and I am always amazed how good the kids look after just one surgery. Luckily kids in this country are treated, not the case in third world countries. I understand that this is not just a genetic defect, but is also related to poor diet. I totally agree that the CEO salary is ridiculous, but the work that is done is essential. I don't know how they manage to perform the kind of work that they do at so little cost. Just imagine how many more surgeries could be done if he cut his salary!

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

Definitely

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

Life-changing

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

Was this review helpful?