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2019 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Smile Train, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Birth Defects & Genetic Diseases, Children & Youth, Children & Youth Services, Health, International, International Development

Mission: Smile Train is an international children’s charity with a sustainable approach to a single, solvable problem: cleft lip and palate. Many children with clefts around the world live in isolation, but more importantly, have difficulty eating, breathing, hearing, and speaking. Cleft repair surgery is simple, and the transformation is immediate. Our sustainable model provides training, funding, and resources to empower local doctors in 85+ countries to provide 100%-free cleft repair surgery and comprehensive cleft care in their own 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. 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 living with cleft lips and palates

Direct beneficiaries per year: one child received cleft surgery every five minutes.

Geographic areas served: 85+ of the countries around the world

Programs: Children born with clefts need more than just surgery. They may also need dental care, orthodontic treatment, and speech therapy. Where these services are available, we do everything we can to make them available to our patients. While our cost per cleft surgery varies across the 85+ different countries we have worked in, our contribution per surgery is as low as $250. This amount reflects the contribution per surgery that we provide our partner hospitals. They also cover a significant portion of each surgery as part of our cost-sharing agreement. Most children who are born with a cleft lip and/or palate develop normal speech once their palate is closed, but a significant amount will need further surgery or speech therapy. Communication problems that are addressed include language delay, articulation problems, and hypernasality. In the developed world, cleft repair is typically provided by multidisciplinary cleft/craniofacial teams comprised of professionals from a variety of healthcare backgrounds including surgeons and orthodontists who work on the child’s total rehabilitation. Smile Train provides vital dental and orthodontic treatment in countries where they are available. Smile Train provides essential free training and education to cleft surgeons and related medical professionals around the world. Since 1999, we have provided more than 66,000 free scholarships, surgical training resources, workshops, and symposiums for doctors and medical professionals from 140+ countries. Smile Train provides financial support that has been used for a wide range of applications, including new operating rooms, cleft surgical instruments and supplies like scalpels and sutures, crucial safety equipment like pulse oximeters, and much more. All of these investments make not only a significant number of incremental cleft surgeries possible, but also make these surgeries safer and of higher quality. Smile Train has played an integral role in developing some of the most cutting-edge advances in cleft care, including the award-winning Virtual Surgery Simulator, which makes complex cleft surgical techniques seem simple to understand, and our Speech Therapy App, which helps children gain confidence in their verbal abilities in their own language. Smile Train's Medical Advisory Board (MAB) is comprised of the best and brightest cleft experts in the world, from maxillofacial surgeons to anesthesiologists to speech pathologists. The MAB compiles information for Smile Train to disseminate in an effort to raise awareness and change public attitudes about clefts. Smile Train is active in launching patient outreach campaigns in an effort to reach patients even in the most remote of areas. These include radio advertisements and programs, fliers, print advertising in local newspapers (with pictures so that even people who are unable to read can be reached), collaborations with other organizations for patient referrals, SMS/text message alerts, and much more. Some of our patients are so malnourished they are not healthy enough to receive cleft surgery. In these cases, they are provided with food for one to two weeks before surgery. We also have patients that are so poor they have no money to get home after surgery. We have special programs that give small stipends to the poorest of the poor that allows them to receive their cleft treatments.

Community Stories

355 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

7

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

Smile Train is an incredible organization having helped provide over a million cleft surgeries to those in need. After seeing how their work can change a child’s life, it is impossible not to get involved. I have had the privilege of meeting some of their staff and their passion and dedication is infectious.

Ryan S.6

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Smile train does so many nice things for people that would otherwise go untreated. The treatment they facilitate changes lives.

1 Chickie80

Donor

Rating: 5

Smile Train has literally transformed the lives of children the world over. It is because of Smile Train’s incredible work, my husband and I are proud to be members of the ‘Frequent Smiler’ program. There is no sweeter sight than the beautiful smiles on the faces of children; especially those who have been touched by the work and dedication of the doctors and medical teams of Smile Train. Since 1999, Smile Train has supported more than one million cleft surgeries. Translation: Over one million smiles of children the world over!

1 Phillip J.1

Donor

Rating: 5

Smile Train is one of the only not for profits that I've found which truly changes the life of the person helped - Donations are put to use in programs and you can see the end result so quickly, at least the smile! The long term effects have been proven to have very high and positive global economic impact, and that will surely only continue to grow! Definitely recommend supporting this charity.

1 Meredith P.1

Donor

Rating: 5

I am blown away by the work that Smile Train does. As a Registered Dietitian, it warms my heart to know that the free health care and surgeries that they provide allow children to properly nourish themselves through eating. That to me is one of the greatest gifts you can give to a child and that's what Smile Train does every single day.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The work that this great organization does around the globe warms my heart. Being able to give a child not only a smile, but to give them confidence is something that lasts a lifetime.

Donor

Rating: 5

The pictures tell the story- when you see the faces of the boys and girls with their new smiles - you feel good that you were able to help.

Tom M.5

Donor

Rating: 5

Great Charity that do important work, helping kids with Cleft palate . I've donated a few times (one off donations) and they've never nagged me or solicited for more donations, unlike other charities I've donated to in the past.

Smile Train get an A+ from me!

Donor

Rating: 5

Smile Train is doing great work for kids who are born with cleft palate. I recently came to know that one of dry wall guys who are working on our new home in India, has son born with cleft palate and he is 9 month old now. My dad told me about it, so I recommend that ask them to contact the Smile Train affiliate doctor in near town. With all my surprises, my dad told me that they already got in touch and the operation is scheduled later this month, and everything will be paid by Smile Train. I was very happy that someone like Smile Train is out there to make sure every child has a Smile on his/her face and making sure that poverty cannot be a reason for it.

Great work Smile Train and please keep doing it.

Donor

Rating: 1

I was told I would get an email notification after my first donation asking me to opt into monthly donations. I never got that email but they took my money monthly. This is a poor business practice.

Donor

Rating: 5

Quite simply I think this one of the very best charities that a person can support. I can think of no other where you get so much satisfaction for your investment. The difference that these surgeries make in these peoples lives is beyond my comprehension.

tflood1431

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 1

Deadbeat organization with past due bills of over two years. Keep demanding unnecessary documents to delay paying the past due bill. Over $30,000 owed . Shameful behavior.

Review from Guidestar

Previous Stories
4

Volunteer

Rating: 2

Smile Train has past due bills that are 2 years past due!!!

Review from Guidestar

3 Ellyn H.

Donor

Rating: 5

Smile Train is the largest sustainable children's cleft charity in the world. Smile Train permanently transforms the lives of poor children born with cleft in 85+ countries worldwide and I have witnessed their work first-hand in Mexico and Argentina. Smile Train is the real deal!

4 Lloyd N.

Donor

Rating: 5

This one of a handful of charities that I support. I have donated to them repeatedly. The work they they perform seems unmatched.

Previous Stories
3

Donor

Rating: 5

We have been a donor for many years. They perform a service that is second to none.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

The very day I was led, by our Lord, Jesus, to support Smile Train, I saw a little girl that had undergone numerous surgeries for a cleft lip. Her parents had insurance but this still did not relieve all the expense of travel, loss of work, and emotional stress for all. Surgeries have given this little girl a beautiful smile that shines beyond all costs. That same day I saw a "Smile Train" semi-truck with a large portrait of beautiful smiling children, it could not be any clearer what is dearest to our Lord's heart & now mine, Children Smiling!!! :)

Previous Stories
5

Donor

Rating: 5

No greater way to give than to sow a smile into a child's life!

4 Jenna S.6

Donor

Rating: 5

SMILE TRAIN IS AN AMAZING ORGANIZATION WHO HAS HELPED OVER ONE MILLION CHILDREN /ADULTS ACROSS THE GLOBE GET ACCESS TO QUALITY HEALTHCARE. THEY ARE A DEDICATED GROUP OF PEOPLE WITH HEARTS OF GOLD.

5 gfrankone

Donor

Rating: 5

Smile Train, Inc. has been my charity of choice for many years now. I picked them as my smile.amazon.com recipient of 1% of whatever I spend on purchases. I have asked them to provide me with a supply of their very motivational and inspiring video and I give these away wherever I can. It is so amazing to me that for something like $250 I can literally give one person a new life. Where can you find a charitable gift like that! It's a real bargain.

Previous Stories
4

Donor

Rating: 5

I have contributed to this charity since the first story I read describing their free surgical cleft repair efforts, over five years ago now. I watched their video and was very moved by it, made all my friends watch it, etc. I am a Monthly Donor and named them as my charity on smile.amazon.com. What a coincidence, Amazon's use of the word "smile" --but I promote Smile Train wherever I can. I am proud to say that it is my favorite. Where else can a $20/month donation actually give one person a whole, new life? For, in parts of the world where having a cleft damns a child, a Smile Train trained local doctor can undo the fear, pain and isolation in less than an hour --thanks to me!

5

Donor

Rating: 5

Smile Train does something no ordinary charity can. It raises a child's self worth. It makes an outcast child an acceptable member of the community. It thereby creates another possible creator of a cancer vaccine, or genius engineer, or philanthropic leader. The possibilities of a recipient of cleft pallet repair are innumerable.

Previous Stories
3

Donor

Rating: 5

5 ⭐ because nearly 100% of my donation is used for surgeries. I have personal knowledge of the stigma that comes with a facial imperfection.
I know that Smile Train CHANGES LIVES.

7 sioux4u

Donor

Rating: 5

There is a history of congenital cleft lip in my family and my affected relatives have been fortunate to live in a place where their clefts were corrected at birth. This organization makes it possible for people around the world in less fortunate circumstances to have the same life changing corrective surgery and they do it at no cost to the recipients and with almost nothing that is donated going for administrative costs. It is an amazing organization and I intend to continue my monetary contributions now and into the future. I hope you will consider supporting them as well.

Previous Stories
1

Donor

Rating: 5

It has been great to contribute to a charity that does so much good for children around the world. One of the big selling points is that 100% of donated money goes to fulfill the mission of repairing clefts in local communities using local doctors, making it possible for so many children who were previously outcasts to lead normal lives .

7

Donor

Rating: 5

Every time we give to Smile Train, we help restore a child’s face. And, that’s a very good feeling; we donate monthly.

Previous Stories
8

Donor

Rating: 5

We donate for a selfish reason: My wife and I feel great every time we donate on a continuing basis and for a one-time special occasion, knowing that we made a difference in a child's life. It's a very gratifying experience.