Frequently Asked Questions

Press Release

About Smile Train

  1. What is Smile Train's name exchange policy?

    From time to time, Smile Train exchanges donor names with other reputable charities. If you do not wish to receive these mailings, or if you would like to change the frequency or types of communications you receive, simply write to us at: Smile Train, PO Box 96231, Washington, DC 20090-6231 or email us at: info@smiletrain.org.

  1. What is Smile Train's vision?

    You can read Smile Train's vision statement here.

  1. Is Smile Train different from other cleft organizations?

    Smile Train is the largest cleft-focused global NGO with a sustainable model of providing treatment through empowering local medical professionals. Since our founding in 1999, Smile Train has supported more cleft surgeries than all other global charities combined. The traditional mission model of flying doctors in for short-term treatment programs is NOT cost effective or sustainable. Smile Train has always championed partnering directly with local hospitals to strengthen health systems and empower local medical professionals to offer surgical services and comprehensive cleft care to children in their own communities. Supporting Smile Train gives a child access to a full range of cleft treatment services they would have otherwise never received, and ultimately the opportunity for a better life.

  1. When was Smile Train started?

    Smile Train was founded in 1999. Since then, Smile Train has grown into the world’s leading cleft charity, helping more than 1,500,000 children with clefts, training thousands of medical professionals in 90+ countries, and establishing hundreds of programs in low- and middle-income countries.


About Donating

  1. How do I obtain a copy of your Annual Report or 990?

    It's easy. You can download our Annual Report or 990 from our "Financials" page.

  1. Can I become a monthly donor?

    Yes! Just visit our "Monthly Giving" page to learn more.

  1. Do you accept donations via PayPal?

    YES! If you'd like to make a donation using PayPal, please select it as your method of payment on our donation page.

  1. Can I donate my car to Smile Train?

    For vehicle donations to Smile Train, please visit Donating​ is Easy.

  1. How do I make a donation in someone's honor or memory?

    Visit our donation form and select "Yes" for the tribute or memorial gift option.

  1. How do I apply for a Matching Gift donation?

    Visit our "Matching Gifts" page and use the search tool to find out if your employer participates in a Matching Program. You can also contact your HR department to find the rules and related forms required to participate.

  1. How can I update or cancel my monthly donation?

    To update your monthly donation or to receive a receipt for your donations, you can call our donor services team Mon.- Fri. 9am -5pm EST at 800-932-9541. If you have any questions, please contact us at info@smiletrain.org.

  1. What percentage of my donation will go to overhead?

    Our goal is to be the most well-managed and cost-efficient charity in the world. To view a percentage breakdown of our total expenses, please visit our "Financials" page.

  1. How do I wire funds directly to Smile Train?

    Please call us at 800.932.9541.

  1. What information do I need to include Smile Train in my will, retirement plan, or life insurance policy?

    Your attorney or agent will need the following information:
    Official Organization Name: Smile Train, Inc.
    Address: 633 Third Avenue, 9th Floor, New York, NY 10017
    Phone: 212.689.9199, Fax: 212.689.9299
    Smile Train is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization registered with the Federal government and within each state and was incorporated in 1999.
    Federal Tax ID #: 13-3661416.

  1. Will I receive a tax receipt for my donation and how long will it take?

    If you make your donation online, you will receive a receipt via email immediately after your donation. If you make your donation over the phone or through the mail, as long as you provide an address with your donation, we'll send you a tax receipt. Tax receipts are generated daily and depending on your location, the receipt can take anywhere from 7-10 days from the deposit/processing date to be received. Please call 800.932.9541 if you would like an additional tax receipt.

  1. What is Smile Train's Federal Tax ID number?

    US Tax ID #: 13-3661416

  1. Is a donation to Smile Train tax deductible?

    We are a 501(c)(3) charity and 100% of all donations to Smile Train are tax deductible in accordance with the IRS regulations.

  1. Is Smile Train a registered charity?

    Smile Train is registered with the federal government and with every state in the US where it is required.

  1. Why does Smile Train have multiple addresses in the US?

    Our physical office is in New York City, NY. We use a mail service in Washington, DC where the majority of our donations are received and processed.

  1. Where is Smile Train located?

    Our World Headquarters is located at 633 Third Avenue, 9th Floor, New York, NY 10017.

  1. Where do I mail donations?

    Smile Train, PO Box 96231, Washington, DC 20090-6231

  1. How do I make out my check?

    Checks or money orders should be made out to Smile Train.

  1. Do I have to donate the entire $250?

    We are grateful for all donations, no matter what amount, and we promise to use them to help children with clefts in need.

  1. Can I visit your office?

    We are not currently accepting visitors to our office due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  1. What does it cost to provide Smile Train surgery?

    Though costs can vary widely depending on where the surgery is performed and the exact procedure each patient requires, a cleft surgery that will change a child 's life forever can cost as little as $250.

  1. Does Smile Train participate in the Combined Federal Campaign?

    Yes. Our registered CFC number is 10284

    Additional information: https://givecfc.org/


About Fundraising and Volunteering

  1. Is Smile Train on Facebook or any other social networking sites?

    Yes! We're on most popular social networking sites, such as:

    Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, and you can mention us in tweets by typing @SmileTrain.

  1. Can I create a personal fundraising page through Smile Train's website?

    Yes. We host completely customizable fundraising pages on our website. You can share your story, upload pictures, see who donated to your fundraiser, post comments and updates, and set up a personalized URL to make sharing your fundraiser even easier. To create your customizable online fundraising page, visit our "Get Involved" page, and you will be guided through the process. Feel free to reach out to us at community@smiletrain.org if there’s anything we can help with.

  1. Does Smile Train need volunteers?

    Thank you for your interest in volunteering with Smile Train! Through our “teach a man to fish” model, we empower local medical professionals in 70+ countries to treat children in their own communities. These professionals then go on to train their peers, creating a long-term, sustainable system. This focus on local empowerment does not allow for on-site or medical volunteer opportunities. If you are interested in seeing Smile Train’s impact first-hand, we urge you explore opportunities to visit our partner hospitals and patients in the field through our Journey of Smiles program.

    If you are interested in dedicating your time and talents to Smile Train a little closer to home, email info@smiletrain.org to inquire about local volunteer opportunities.


Programs

  1. What follow-up services does Smile Train provide?

    When Smile Train was founded, we were only able to offer the initial cleft surgery. As we have expanded and our resources have grown, we are very happy to now sponsor not only free follow-up surgeries, but also nutritional support, speech therapy, orthodontics programs, and other essential cleft care services at a number of our partner hospitals.

  1. How does Smile Train keep track of the surgeries they sponsor?

    We use proprietary technology to save money and do things faster, cheaper, and smarter. We built a digital patient database called Smile Train Express, where our partners upload all of their patient records. This not only saves millions in shipping, handling, and storage costs, but also allows us to review and monitor the quality of their work instantly.

  1. What is Smile Train doing to prevent clefts?

    Many of the experts in the cleft world are actively investigating the etiology and prevention of clefts. We support their work and hope one day they will find a solution. For now, we know there are many factors, including genetics, family history, environment, and nutrition, which may increase or decrease the likelihood of a cleft forming. A few studies have found a potential link between folic acid and clefts, whereas others have found no correlation. What we do know is that folic acid plays a critical role in embryonic development, before and after conception. Clefts develop very early in the first trimester, and many women may not even know they are pregnant when the cleft is formed, making early intervention difficult. While Smile Train does not have a folic acid distribution program, we work to raise awareness about clefts and treat them through surgery and other essential treatments such as nutrition, speech therapy, and specialized orthodontics.

  1. Does Smile Train help children with clefts in America?

    While Smile Train mainly provides support for cleft programs in low- and middle-income countries, the cleft treatment needs and challenges faced by the Native American population within the US are very similar to those in many of the places where our partners work. As a result, Smile Train also supports programs to help this population. Additionally, Smile Train has provided grants to a number of cleft teams in the US to support their non-surgical cleft care programs.


About Clefts

  1. Why does Smile Train focus on clefts?

    Instead of doing a little bit of this and a little bit of that, like many charities, Smile Train decided to choose one specific problem that affects children and try to solve it.
    We chose clefts because:

    • By focusing on clefts, we can be much more effective and productive —  we work with many cleft teams, hospitals, charities, research programs, and educational institutions around the world
    • Clefts are a significant problem affecting the lives of millions of vulnerable children
    • The cure for clefts has already been found: a surgery that can take as little as 45 minutes
    • The impact of cleft surgery is dramatic, immediate, and permanent! This is one of the best low-cost, high-impact interventions in the world — a true modern day medical miracle that changes a child’s life forever
    • Once a cleft is treated, it never comes back!
  1. Do only low- and middle-income countries have a problem with clefts?

    Babies are born with clefts everywhere in the world, including the US, but you seldom see untreated clefts in here because they are treated soon after birth. Clefts are usually NOT treated in low- and middle-income countries because most families there cannot afford surgery and the government will not subsidize it.

  1. What is a cleft?

    A cleft occurs when certain body parts and structures do not fuse together during fetal development. Clefts are a common birth difference that can involve the lip and/or the roof of the mouth and affect an estimated 200,000+ babies every year globally. Due to poverty, limited awareness, and lack of medical resources, the vast majority of these children are at risk of never receiving the reconstructive surgery they need to eat, breathe, speak, hear, and often even survive childhood. That’s why Smile Train is working 365 days a year to help these children in need.


About the Children

  1. Why doesn’t Smile Train always show after-surgery photos in ads?

    We test the results of all our advertising. Our research and analysis demonstrate that including only before photos in advertisements significantly increases the amount of money we raise to help children.

  1. Can I get the contact information for a child I saw in one of your marketing materials?

    Smile Train is committed to maintaining our patients’ privacy. As such, we do not release contact information for the children that we help.

  1. Can I restrict my donation to help the specific child I saw in your advertisement or direct mail?

    At the present time it is not possible for us to restrict individual donations to specific children. What we can promise you is that we will use your donation to help a child in need who would otherwise never have received treatment. Your support will make a very dramatic, immediate, and permanent impact on someone’s life.

  1. Can I receive a picture of the specific child I have helped?

    A few months after your donation, we will send you a picture and a story of a child we were able to help following your donation. We hope you will display the picture in your home as a happy reminder that there is a child smiling today thanks to you.

  1. Can I restrict my gift to either a boy or a girl?

    In order to provide as many surgeries as quickly as possible, Smile Train helps every child that comes to us, regardless of sex. We are unable to restrict donations to a specific gender.

  1. Can I restrict my gift to a certain country?

    In order to provide as many surgeries as quickly as possible, Smile Train suggests that all donations be unrestricted. However, if restricting your gift to a specific country is important to you, please contact us at 800-932-9541 and we will do our best to accommodate your request.