Smile Train, Inc.

Rating: 2.53 stars   77 reviews

Issues:

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
Write a Review

More Info

EIN 13-3661416
1-800-932-9541
Invite people to share their experience with this nonprofit!

Promote This Nonprofit

GreatNonprofits badges allow you to raise awareness of your favorite nonprofits on your own web sites!

Review this charity on
GreatNonprofits

Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars   Featured Review

4 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

Was this review helpful? 
Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 1 stars  

5 people found this review helpful

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.

Was this review helpful? 
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? 
Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 1 stars  

37 people found this review helpful

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!

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

Fire the greedy Brian Mullaney, the President and Co-Founder of Smile Train. Find someone who really cares for Smile Train's mission.

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

Life-changing

Will you recommend this organization to others?

Unlikely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 1 stars  

10 people found this review helpful

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.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Receiving an unsolicited targeted direct mailing, likely because my name was sold by a WDC nonprofit - and I have a "good" ZIP Code (Neilsen Claritas rates it as 04 - "Young Digerati - Tech Savvy, affluent...")

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

Stop the "extortion by mail" The outside of the envelope like falsely claims that if I make one donation, we'll never ask for another donation again!" (There is also a large color photo of one of their cleft palate children.)

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

Nothing

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Represent only about 7.6% of its 2007 gross receipts.

Ways to make it better...

They ceased their high pressure appeal to "liberal guilt."

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

Honesty regarding the low level of disbursements to service providers as a fraction (10.74%) of their incredibly high 2007 gross income.

One thing I'd also say is that...

Sadly, there are other nonprofits, such as the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) that have pursued a similar marketing-intensive direct mail approach. SPLC's 2007 IRS 990 revealed a total of $191.8 million at year end.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-8-01

Was this review helpful? 
Review from Guidestar
Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 1 stars  

3 people found this review helpful

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.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

My personal experience consists of receiving unsolicited mail.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-5-01

Was this review helpful? 
Review from Guidestar
Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 1 stars  

8 people found this review helpful

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.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

It's great kids are being helped but staff is overpaid.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-1-01

Was this review helpful?