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2017 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

10 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.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I've had the pleasure to work on the Smile Train account with my agency for more than 10 years and it's been such a pleasure to see the impact this organization makes in the world. I'm truly proud and humbled to able to help to make children smile by working with them. Smile Train's commitment to providing cleft surgeries in developing countries is truly remarkable and I hope they can continue to grow their mission until any child born with a cleft will always have help to have their cleft repaired. Thanks for being such a great example of how we can all do a little good in the world!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

In my field I work with a lot of nonprofits and Smile Train stands head and shoulders above the others. They work efficiently and effectively so every dollar that's donated does the most work that it can. Their programs empower the communities in which they operate as well so they're not only changing the lives of those that have surgeries, but also the community around them. I'm proud to call myself a Smile Train donor and as long as their doing their work, they can count on me.

7 Christopher69

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

This charity is under new management and is doing great work. I wrote the book on cause marketing, The Business of Cause Marketing and have studied charities for more than 15 years. It is shocking that they do not have a better rating on this site!

74

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 1

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.

4

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

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.

47

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 1

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!

8

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

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.

14

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 1

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.

Review from Guidestar

7

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 1

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.

Review from Guidestar

14

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 1

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.