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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 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

Programs: Treatment program: free cleft surgeries - while our cost per surgery varies across the 85+ different countries where we have worked, our contribution per surgery can be 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 with our medical partners. Free medical equipment & infrastructure support - for many of our partners, access to safe operating rooms is their biggest barrier. Many struggle with old and inadequate equipment such as anesthesia machines and a lack of other equipment and supplies. Smile train provides financial support that has been used for everything from building new operating rooms to crucial safety equipment such as pulse oximeters and cleft surgical instruments and supplies including scalpels and sutures. All of these investments work to provide a significant number of incremental surgeries, but also result in safer and higher quality outcomes for children in need. Free ancillary treatment - every child with cleft needs more than just surgery. Often they also need orthodontic care and speech therapy. Where these services are available, we do everything we can to make them accessible to our patients. We pay for speech therapy sessions, orthodontic work and much more. Financial aid for poor patients - some of our patients are so malnourished they are not healthy enough to be safely operated on and are provided food for one to two weeks before surgery. Some of our patients are so poor they have no money to get to the hospital or to travel home after surgery. Sometimes they have no shoes and no money for food. We have special programs that give small stipends for these poorest of the poor. These expenses exclude $57,036,544 donated time and services from doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists, organizations, companies, other medical professionals and medical facilities and supplies.

public education program: every year, people in developing countries isolate or abandon their newborn babies because they don't know a cleft is a simple birth defect and not a "curse from god. " thousands of children with clefts are never brought to hospitals for treatment because their parents don't know clefts are treatable. Thousands of people in developing countries come to smile train for information on how to find a good cleft team and how to take care of their newborn babies with clefts. Through direct mail, websites, newspapers, radio, tv, public service announcements, documentaries, public relations, social media, etc. , we raise public awareness about clefts in developing countries and in the united states.

training program: smile train provides free training and education to cleft care professionals around the world. Access to education and training opportunities is critical to smile train's mission of empowering local medical teams to provide safe, high-quality cleft care. Over the past 15 years, we have provided support for more than 1,500 medical conferences and training opportunities to improve cleft treatment in the developing world. Smile train supports hands-on and workshop-based training opportunities to improve the skill level of cleft care professionals in the developing world. Recent initiatives have focused on supporting training programs for cleft care nurses and anesthesiologists, including the development of the smile train safe nursing care saves lives program in africa that has now been scaled and implemented for smile train partners around the world. Smile train is innovative in its approach to provide quality training to medical professionals worldwide. In the developing world, surgeons often do not have access to the latest innovative techniques and updated protocols for cleft surgery. Smile train partners have conducted over one million surgeries worldwide and lacking access to such resources can be a barrier to their continuing education and quality improvement. Smile train recognized this problem and since 1999 has distributed free virtual surgery training materials to 40,000+ medical professionals in 149 countries around the world. Smile train took this technology to the next level and recently released the first open-access, web-based, interactive virtual surgery simulator designed to enhance training for surgeons on how to repair clefts. The simulator links state-of-art surgical resources to the most remote parts of the world, and changes the paradigm of surgical training internationally. The simulator was distributed to 1100+ smile train partner surgeons worldwide. Since the launch of the simulator, smile train confirmed users of the system in more than 90 countries around the world, including places where over half the population lives below the poverty level and where the per capital annual income is less than $500 per year. Through this unique approach smile train has leveraged technology to change the course of medical education while also improving the lives of children born with cleft in the developing world.

Community Stories

8 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.

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!

72

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.

45

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.

13

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

6

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

13

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.