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  

26 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: 1 stars  

14 people found this review helpful

I am very disappointed in this organization. I understand that children have this and it can be pretty bad as my son was born with cleft lip and palate but I called to do the donation to give back to what I have paid so much in medical for and not just medical but it is all around for them with dental and all. I called and they told me that they don't make any contributions within the United States to the families that really need the help here. As when my son had his. We are still paying some of the medical bills for it and will until after he turns 18. He has had right now two surgeries and is turning around for a possible third reconstruction. It amazes me that we have so many children that need this in the states to know that they are not and will not even try to help with the surgeries here. I had these specific questions before I even would consider donating and was very disappointed. There is so much more that can be done here to help fellow Americans as well. I am disappointed that they are taking money from the all of us to send overseas to help children there when children as my son could have used the help for it as well. Very disappointed with this charity.

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

Bring it also to the United States and help all those in need not just the children overseas. Expand the helping

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

No

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

A little

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

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Rating: 1 stars  

44 people found this review helpful

Many years ago this was a good organization founded by a plastic surgeon who saw a need for his skill set and gave years of his life to give impoverished disfigured children a fighting chance at a normal life. THAT HAS NOT BEEN THE CASE FOR MANY YEARS. I don't believe anyone would fund what this "charity" has become. If you have any doubts about where their priorities are, take a look at their very fancy NYC offices, their payroll, the very limited information regarding the way they operate today, as well as the complaints about the inadaquate medical practices they have been accused of.

I took the time to write an email asking to be removed from all of their lists as I have been receiving up to three separate solicitations in any given week and if for no other reason feel the waste of paper and postage is a sin. No response from anyone in the organization, but now they are soliciting on every web page I visit that accepts advertising. This to me, borders on criminal and certainly is not how I want to see money I give to any charity used.

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

Turn the whole thing over to Doctors without Boarders and let them determine medical needs and procedures

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

No

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

A little

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

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Rating: 1 stars  

5 people found this review helpful

SmileTrain posts highly offensive web ads depicting disfigured children. I consistently complain to every website carrying such ads. I can support this work, which may be very beneficial to these unfortunate kids, but there has to be a better way than their ad campaign.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

No

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

A little

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

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Rating: 1 stars  

12 people found this review helpful

I am overwhelmed by solicitations from Smile Train. It is esp. irritating that I obviously have to go out of the way to stop them. I was esp. turned off by the one that said, "Donate now & we will stop sending you these letters-- so you won't have to see these faces." I feel like the victim to receive the letters with these pictures on the OUTSIDE of the envelope. I give to at least 30 other charities. I am most moved by the Carter Foundation and other charities that help with PREVENTION of disease or family planning. Smile Train is not where I want to send my money & I want them to never contact me again.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

Unlikely

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

None

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

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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  

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

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Rating: 1 stars  

6 people found this review helpful

The seemingly endless supply of children with clefts is because the cleft is most often caused by a defective gene that is passed from generation to generation. Until steps are taken to prevent the passing forward of the gene by the same people who are being COSMETICALLY repaired the whole project is an exercise in futility. I cannot contribute to such a business until an ultimate solution to the problem is presented and implemented.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

No

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

A little

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

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Rating: 5 stars  

9 people found this review helpful

I am the Prevention Coordinator at Central Park East Middle school located in East Harlem. One of our students saw an infomercial and wanted to help. After getting permission from the Principal she then recruited her Board of Directors (advisors as well as other service learning students (Peer leaders) whose job it is to do monthly community service activities to assist her in her endeavor. All parties involved never expected to raise the funds they did but with the inspiration from one student it became contagious that she had the entire school community involved. Her board held dress down days. Healthy snack sales a book fair and a Valentine's Day sweetheart drive. One of our big contributers was Common Cents (Penny harvest) and with the other various service activities we were able to raise a nice amount of money to the SMILE TRAIN organization. It was also an honor to have two representatives from SMILETRAIN to actually come to our school to pick up the check at our Check Ceremony and to also hear how the students got involved in the service activities. It was a great learning experience for all.

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

Seeing that young people can know that they can make a difference.

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

Change nothing.

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