My experiences witnessing the barriers to dental care motivated me to become involved with the organization Smile Train. I have fundraised for treatment for children with clefts and provided literacy to the community about cleft conditions. My involvement with this organization not only fulfilled me deeply, but also gave me a background in oral and maxillofacial terminology while also improving my communication and teamwork skills. This experience will inevitably prepare me for a career as a dentist and help me reduce health-care disparities.
This charity is under new management and is doing great work. I wrote the book on cause marketing, The Business of Cause Marketing and have studied charities for more than 15 years. It is shocking that they do not have a better rating on this site!
I volunteer for an NGO that provides free cleft lip and palate surgery in developing countries. Smile Train promises to reimburse us for the surgeries we perform. (Smile Train performs NO surgeries). They have delayed and denied funding to us on numerous occasions after we have provided volumes of data including pictures of our surgeries. They use our pictures, but deny us funding. Smile Train is in business for the express purpose of providing huge salaries to a few well connected people. DO NOT GIVE TO THIS ORGANIZATION. You are being cheated out of your money by greedy people.
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.
Check out your charities very carefully! Dig a little deeper into Smile Train and you will find that Brian Mullaney, the President and Co-Founder of Smile Train, is doing very, very, very well with his huge compensation package. I was almost ready to contribute until I saw how many cleft-palate children, even a small part of his outrageous compensation package would pay for. As an orthodontist, I'll contribute elsewhere. Thank you!
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.
Another charity that spends considerable funds advertising - and then sits on the money they rake in. The most recent IRS 990 certainly makes interesting reading. In 2007 their gross receipts were $130.6 million. Their investments totaled $107.1 million at year end. Service provider disbursements [Part II Other Grants] totaled a mere $14.03 million that year, or a minuscule 10.74% of gross receipts. They disguise their $23.6 million marketing expenditures as "public education." Another phony charity in my view.
Review from Guidestar
The amount of money this organization spends on advertising in major publications, local newspapers and in direct mail is appalling. There could not possibly be enough recipients in the world to justify the fund raising this organization does. It needs to be investigated.
Review from Guidestar
DeLois Greenwood, VP of Smile Train is paid in excess of $310,000 per year. She is also provided an apartment in New York City paid for by Smile Train. Several other employees earn in excess or close to the $200,000 per year amount. Why are these employees earning so much money working for a not for profit charity? Why isn't the public made aware that these enormous salaries are being paid? It seems these people are willing to help kids but only if their pockets are stuffed with cash first.