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2021 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 safe, and the transformation is immediate. Our sustainable model provides training, funding, and resources to empower local medical professionals 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 medical professionals to perform cleft repairs in their communities. Those medical professionals then go on to train others creating a long-term, sustainable system. Patients see their forever 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: 90+ 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

411 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

16

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.

Yosvaldy F.

Donor

Rating: 5

Thanks for such amazing work! We, all parents in the world, give you a big thank you. God bless you.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I’ve supported smiletrain for over 12 years and love the way they operate- one child’s corrected palate changes the life of that child and their family. My own child has a a medical condition that currently isn’t “curable” but I’m at least living in a country where we have a hope of getting the cure if it becomes available. I cannot tell you what joy that would bring and what a difference it would make to our daughters life. Smiletrain try really hard not to waste a penny, ensuring they work with, rather than overlap existing medical care, making it possible for local professionals to do the work where this can be achieved, whilst monitoring quality and safety and keeping staff count low.

Donor

Rating: 5

A fantastic way to help kids go through life without this unfortunate burden that thankfully can be fixed relatively easily.

Donor

Rating: 5

I Love what they do; beautiful people helping those WHO CANT HELP THEMSELVES!❤

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I had a child 50 years who was born with cleft palate who unfortunately died
as a baby and have supported Smile Train now for many years in memory of him and I think what this charity doing is amazing

Mary L.10

Donor

Rating: 5

Smiletrain does such amazing work, giving young people confidence in themselves and opening up a whole new world for them

Donor

Rating: 5

This is by far, one of the most rewarding charities in the world. Knowing that a life can be changed forever, is such a wonderful gift to give. Thank you for making it possible for those people who dearly need it.

Ronnie L.1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As a speech pathologist in training I learned about the challenges children born with cleft palates face. Surgical intervention can be life saving for infants who may not be able to suck. Surgical repair can give a child the gift of living a normal life.
SmileTrain provides this service to children who would not have access to this help otherwise. I am impressed with the wonderful work it does.




Donor

Rating: 5

Good cause and simple website. I don’t know much about this field of work but I know they are changing lives for the better.

Donor

Rating: 5

Just want to give back! Stay Blessed. I don't know what else to say, because that's all there is to it. But I needed at least 50 characters!

Ok, so I found out you guys want a story.
Hope this motivates someone to give back even if it's just a dollar!

All my life I've wanted lots of things. I'm obsessed with how things look, I've always had my sister giving me all I've ever wanted. And over the years I've tried to give as much as I can. But there were times where I didn't necessarily do it with what some may call "good intention".
Someone once taught me to pay it forward. And ever since then It took a while for it to stick. But it's all about giving, without requiring anything in return. I hope this really helps someone it's a bit vague, but it's the truth #Life
Peace and Love Kings and Queens!

Board Member

Rating: 5

Amazing to receive a photograph today of the "before and after" surgery of the child in Cambodia, who you used our donation to treat. It's made everyone here happy - thank you for your work and we will continue to support you.

Brenda H.9

Donor

Rating: 5

I'd love to hope I made a difference to the life of a child.

Donor

Rating: 5

I have lived in Africa for many years and seen first hand these poor children and their unneccessary suffering. Please good people, donate a sum every month to help put the smile back on that sweet little face. Bless you Mike

Donor

Rating: 5

I recently found out about Smile Train through a mail package I received in my mailbox. The non-profit organization's mailing brochure was well-presented, telling the Smile Train story quite easily and thoroughly, and, since I'd not heard of Smile Train prior to receipt of their mail piece, i decided to dig deeper and see what has been published on their performance and delivery of
surgically corrected smiles. what I discovered was enough to convince me that Smile Train is a
well-run, highly effective, and committed organization that does what they say they do. I am pleased to have received the information on Smile Train, and I look forward to supporting this wonderful organization for many years to come. I just gave Smile Train a $1000.00, first time gift. Won't you join me? You can give as little as $25.00. Please join me in bringing smiles to the faces of children born with a cleft condition, children who would not otherwise have had the opportunity to look in the mirror and see their own smile . Thank you, Smile Train, for introducing your organization to me this morning.
Thomas Kemper
Dallas, TX

Client Served

Rating: 5

Having been born with a severe cleft palate in 1950 and with the help of wonderful doctor's who at the time used experimental procedures. Over years of operations and dental procedure I can say that I went on to become a teacher for over 40 years with out a severe speech impediment. I am forever grateful for their great vision.

Donor

Rating: 4

I've been supporting SMileTrain for some time now, because what they do is really quite simple surgery, but which has a huge beneficial effect on the person and their friends and family. The cleft-lip is a really awful thing, and one would hope studies are being made into its cause, although I suspect it is genetic, like haemophilia.
So in the absence oF a cure for children yet unborn, SmileTrain offer the next best thing.

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been donating to Smile Train for about two years. It is very heartwarming to see the smile of the children on their website who have had a cleft operation. Donating just $25/month is about the easiest way I know to spread love and goodwill to children and their mothers around the world. These children can be quite sad and lonely because of their affliction and I am grateful to be able to help.
Cheers

Donor

Rating: 5

My donation to this group has everything to do with my dad. He was a Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon who repaired many cleft palates for children during his career. Every time I donate, it is for James W. Kelley, M.D. He has been gone for years, but the memory of his work and his empathy for others will always live on.

Donor

Rating: 5

smiletrain does an excellent job helping children around the world
GOD BLESS!

Donor

Rating: 5

I am grateful that I'm able to donate and help even if it is in a small way. What Smile Train does for kids around the world is inspiring.

Donor

Rating: 5

After viewing the photos of these beautiful children on with this facial disfigurement my heart was broken. I knew I needed to reach out and help them receive the surgery they need to live a normal and functional life. The results of these life-changing surgeries it's amazing. Truly a worthwhile and deserving cause. Tony R.

Jim H.9

Donor

Rating: 5

Very worthwhile donation. All children with disabilities need and deserve our help.

1 Jonathon D.

Donor

Rating: 5

I was offered an extension of %80 discount on high-priced sound equipment and the savings are now the childrens

1

Donor

Rating: 5

Wonderful charity, easy to donate, doing an amazing job, thank you on behalf of the children.

Donor

Rating: 5

Easy process to donate to a highly rated charity (Charity Navigator).

Donor

Rating: 5

Smile Train is very generous about matching and do one of the most essential humanitarian missions in the world. It was perhaps the NYT who said that they were "the most productive charity, dollar for deed." Paypal partnered with them. That makes me trust that they are not just legit but exceptional in their desire to provide unselfish care. I've supported them for years and they have mailed me follow up photos of the surgeries I helped provide.

1 Oliver C.

Donor

Rating: 5

I don't have a lot of money, but to know that my $250. donation can make such an amazing difference in the life of one person is really rewarding. That such a simple operation can mean so much to someone is awesome. It's so simple; it's brilliant.

Donor

Rating: 5

It breaks my heart to see this children with this type of problem, I can't imagine how much they suffer at home, school and in the community.
I wish I could donate even more, but I wish that even this small amount will make a difference in the life of a child.

I hope that everyone reading this review can feel the urge to donate to help on, two, three or even many children that have this problem.
Thank you Smile Train staff and volunteers for the great job you're doing.

Oscar

Donor

Rating: 5

My children and I have always saved money as a family to give to Smile Train as often as we can. There is nothing more beautiful than a Childs smile. Thank you for all you do!

Sandra Fair

Donor

Rating: 4

I would be grateful if you could furnish me with the % that is attributed to back room/administration and directly to helping patients.
I ask this of all charities I contribute too, also the salary of the chief executive?
Many thanks Seán Higgins

Volunteer

Rating: 5

You guys doing a great job and thank you for giving me a opportunity keep up your gd works keep helping everyone ❤️

1

Donor

Rating: 5

A blessing of God's work in place is being done within this organization.

Jim S.12

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Great chance to help remove the lifetime stigma these children face

2 martyp1

Donor

Rating: 5

It is an honor to participate in this simple way in the righteous work you do. Thank you for the opportunity.

1 MissHanneken

Donor

Rating: 5

I've seen the smile train commercial on many times but usually doing something else, so when I finally watched the whole commercial and realized how deeply affected these children are by cleft palate and how much it could help just to give a little, I couldn't resist donating. I commend the doctors and staff who take the time out to help these children, that is way more than just donating money. Smile Train is absolutely wonderful for helping cleft palate to get fixed.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

The TV information was compelling.
I liked seeing the parents after their
Child’s surgery. It was easy to see it was life saving for the whole family.

We had a dinner reservation for this Saturday night but I was hospitalized.
That afternoon I saw the Smile Train
Infomercial.
The cancelled dinner would have cost about $250,i decided the money would be much better spent by creating a smile than adding pounds where they are not needed!

2

Donor

Rating: 5

Saw the TV footage and wanted to help improve lives for these children. Great that the charity is doing so much for the children.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I truly see the dedication and efforts each and every person puts into this organization. They are constantly re-defining all the different ways we can support and help children who need surgery to live a healthier and happy life. Fortunate to be involved and thankful there is a huge team out there who dedicate so much time in making a change and helping children.

Sade L.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've had the pleasure of working with the Smile Train for over 1 year and absolutely adore this organization. All the staff and volunteers are very professional and passionate about providing cleft care to children all over the world.

Donor

Rating: 5

The Smile Train staff are very compassionate and make it clear that donations are making a difference in the lives of children.

1 Ava Lerner W.

Donor

Rating: 5

Smile Train, Inc. has long been one of my favorite nonprofits to support. Their work is absolutely guaranteed to bring smiles. I appreciate the frequency of their arranged "matching" grants so that I know my contribution can offer as much as possible.
The surgeries they provide to children all over the world have so many levels of impact, physical and emotional. A cleft pallet can affect the nutritional status of a child, their self a worth and self-confidence, and their speech abilities. What a tremendous boon to each child and their family and community this change offers. Please keep Smile Train in your heart and give what and when you can. It truly will make a miraculous difference in the world.

Donor

Rating: 5

I’m consistently impressed by the resources put out by smile train, as well as the dedication of the staff. Much of the team has been around for over a decade which speaks volumes to the culture.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Smile Train does the most amazing work to treat clefts and engage with people around the world. There are so many opportunities for people of all ages to get involved and make a difference!!

Asha N.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

From my visits to three partner hospitals in India this year (as part of my induction as a volunteer), I saw first-hand the excellent work undertaken by highly qualified and dedicated Smile Train care professionals. The cleft care pathway was tailored for every child spanning several years and including a total package of surgical, orthodontic, nutritional, speech therapy and care in the community support.
There were good quality control systems and effective checks and balances to ensure high quality results and effective use of resources.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I first starting volunteering for Smile Train when I was in High School 16 years ago. I've supported them over the years with donations. I've now gone a step further and am fundraising for them. They are really well run organization who makes great use of the donations for an amazing cause.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Since my son was born with cleft lip and palate I started to following Smile Train. I had the chance to involved through my son´s surgeon here in Ecuador with Hospital del Dia Niños de la Mano de María from where I can have the opportunity to meet lot´s of mothers who suffered what I did years ago. All the experience I have reached from ST I am able to share with families that need help and support. At ST kids can have support before they are born, at ST you can have support on feeding, nutritions, all the needed surgeries, orthdontichs, speech therapy, etc. Throughout the years and after al the support you receive fron ST is more than your own family.

Noga Peled R.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Smile Train is an amazing organization that is so committed to its cause. The team managers are amazing at helping you with your fundraising efforts and it always feels good to make a difference. This organization makes a HUGE difference!

Donor

Rating: 5

Amazing organization doing amazing work! Cant say enough great things about SmileTrain, it's people, and the work they do.

Donor

Rating: 5

I’ve seen firsthand how Smile Train changes the lives of not only its patients but their families and their communities. Keep up the great work!

7

Donor

Rating: 1

We gave $60,000 over 12 years. That means 240 pallets fixed! I think of what that meant to the Moms. That is my emotional connection.

But something changed when they separated from the founder. I don't know. They lost track of me. I called and talked to a "head guy" who said he would fix. Nothing. So this year instead of a gift I sadly mailed back a special credit card sized card that showed pallets we fixed. I cherished that card, but they cut off our relationship. And even with the card back, no response from them. Very sad.

DR

15

Donor

Rating: 3

I love the work they do. I have contributed for several years.
They do not publish an IRS 990 form with useful information. The salaries of management are not even listed.
I'd like a simple summary of (%) of donations used for programs. ($programs/$donations).
They seem to make it too hard do discover. Are they hiding something?
You can check the 990T at:
https://apps.irs.gov/pub/epostcard/cor/133661416_201806_990T_2019061016396533.pdf
ST is a terrific charity. I don't know about the organization.

4

Donor

Rating: 5

I've been donating to Smile Train for a couple of years, and have visited some of the hospitals they support in Mexico and Central America. I must say it is an amazing job they do, they have created a Cleft Community: doctors, patients, families, donors and staff, they are all a big family changing the lives of the children, their families and their entire communities.

6

Donor

Rating: 5

There are many charities doing amazing work in the world, but I believe this to be one of the best.
I want to encourage any size donation no matter if its a $1 to a million whatever you can afford, this group will make the most of they money they are given.
But if you can donate $250 you have forever changed a life, more than just a meal or clothes, its lifetime of effects, its social acceptance, for friends, school, work opportunities. Also its about thriving, some of those children can feed properly and if every calorie counts this can be the difference between life or death.
There is no single gift of that amount that impacts a life long change in another human in all aspects of their life from how they feel to how they are treated, and the ability to live a normal life.

5

Donor

Rating: 5

Nothing feels better that you are able to put a smile on someone's face.

6

Donor

Rating: 5

This is a life-changing organization that gives the gift of a smile and social peace to every child it serves. It restores them as important members of their community and builds confidence to live with joy and enthusiasm. The doctors and medical staff that provide this care are brave, competent and selfless. The peace that these surgeries create is felt by all humanity. Smile Train is a fiscally responsible and transparent non-profit. Their website is user-friendly and it makes it easy to update information in seconds. I love this uplifting organization, the children they serve and the opportunity to give the gift of smiles of joy. Cheers to a lives of happiness and connection!

5

Donor

Rating: 5

"When you have done for one of these, you have done it on to Me" Smile Train might be secular but they make an impact on the lives of children that we will only know the true magnitude when we meet the Lord face to face. I can't imagine having a child with this condition and not been able to provide the means to change his/her life for the better. What a blessing is to live in the US. What a Blessing is to have organizations such as Smile a Train that have a commitment to do what ever is possible to give a helping hand and change a life for the better. May God Bless them always as they continue their work.

6

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.

3 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.

3 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!

4 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.

3 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.

1

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.

4

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.

1 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!