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2018 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. Millions of children in developing countries with untreated clefts 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+ developing 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 suffering from cleft lips and palates

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

Geographic areas served: 85+ of the world's poorest countries

Programs: Globally, 1 in every 700 children is born with a cleft. While surgery can take as little as 45 minutes and costs as little as $250, it is out of reach for many in the developing world. Smile Train is an international children’s charity that provides 100%-free cleft repair surgery and comprehensive cleft care to children in 85+ developing countries. Our sustainable model empowers local doctors to provide cleft care in their own communities. 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 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 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

343 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

3

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.

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!

1 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
1

Donor

Rating: 5

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

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

Donor

Rating: 5

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

1 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.

2 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
3

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!

3

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
1

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.

1 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

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 .

4

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
4

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.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

Charity will not stop sending donations requests. Repeated requests have been ignored. Multiple requests a week for person who has been dead for five years and for another person who is in a rest home. Pure harassment to continually be bombarded with unwanted donation requests

2

Donor

Rating: 1

According to Give.org, this charity sends out misleading information about the percentage of revenue used for their actual medical practice compared to payments to staff. They also hound you with solicitations, as is also mentioned in the Give.org report. I gave to them a few times in the past and then asked to be taken off their mailing list when I got phone calls and mailers hounding me for donations several days in a row. The solicitations stopped for a while until I got this email request AND another mailer on the same day.



3

Donor

Rating: 1

I started making donations to Smile Train in response to mail solicitation. Within a short period of time I started receiving an unending stream of telephone solicitations on Smile Trains behalf from something called "Donor Services Group". Multiple requests to them to cease phone solicitations went unheeded. Smile Train has received its last donation from me.

2

Donor

Rating: 5

Excellent organization does a fantastic job helping poor children around the world.

Donor

Rating: 5

This charity is wonderful. It changes the life path of these children. Before the surgery, they are likely to live miserable lives , being ostracized by society, having low self esteem, and filled with self-loathing. After the surgery, the trajectory of their lives changes dramatically. They will fit in with society. They are more likely to have higher self esteem., and the sky is the limit for what they can accomplish. I can't think of any other charity that can have such a marked and positive effect on children' lives. It's incredible!

Donor

Rating: 5

Love this charity. My wife and I have donoted to Smile Train for over 5 years.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

This is a phenomenal organization! Their work is far reaching and helps children to go on to have normal, productive lives. Their site is easy to navigate of you plan to donate online. They have a lovely DVD about a little girl, Pinkie, who has greatly benefited from their tremendous work. This DVD can be used as a fundraiser for your organization to inspire others, as I did with my 3rd grade class. We smiled when we could help other children to finally SMILE!

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been donating to Smile Train every year for many years. A smile means everything to a child and with this wondrous surgery, this is a gift of enduring value.

1 Simon M.1

Donor

Rating: 5

While in the Military I saw first hand how this organization makes an immediate and life changing impact on a child's life. It made me an instant supporter.

3 Kevin D.1

Donor

Rating: 5

Growing up in the privileged US, I saw a friend of mine with a cleft palate be teased for his appearance. In these countries where Smile Train does their great work, these children are too often shunned by society for a physical abnormality. Our donations give these beautiful children a shot at life. I love this charity and their good works.

3 JP C.

Donor

Rating: 5

I have known Susannah for over 35 years, she is a great person and does a tremendous job for the kids helped by Smile Train.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Great charity to help kids. I am glad to donate to help these children. Will one day get rid of impoverishment and its inability to heal and foster goodness.

Wickedness is a problem that we can all take care of by 1 thinking better thoughts and 2 helping others.