Frequently Asked Questions
About the Children
What does it cost Smile Train to sponsor a surgery?
For as little as £150, you can support a free cleft surgery that will change a child’s life forever.
Do I have to donate the entire £150?
We are grateful for all donations. Any amount will be put to good use helping children with clefts around the world.
How do I make out my cheque?
Cheques or money orders should be made out to ‘Smile Train UK’.
Where do I post donations?
Donations from the UK should be sent to: Smile Train UK, York House, Wetherby Road, York, YO26 7NH.
Where is Smile Train located?
Smile Train UK: York House, Wetherby Road, York, YO26 7NH.
Smile Train World Headquarters: 633 Third Avenue, 9th Floor, New York, NY 10017, USA.
Is Smile Train a registered charity?
Yes. Our registered charity number in the UK is 1114748.
Will my donation qualify for Gift Aid?
If you are a UK taxpayer and would like Smile Train UK to reclaim tax on all donations you make, you must pay an amount of Income Tax and/or Capital Gains Tax at least equal to the tax that Smile Train UK reclaims on your donation in the appropriate tax year. This is currently 25p for every pound you give. You must indicate on the donation form that you would like your donation to receive Gift Aid when making the donation. Learn more about Smile Train's Gift Aid policy.
Will I receive an acknowledgement for my donation?
Unless you specifically note that you would not like to be acknowledged, we will send you an acknowledgement as long as you provide an address with your donation.
Is Smile Train a member of the Fundraising Regulator?
Smile Train is a member in good standing of the Fundraising Regulator.
How do I donate shares to Smile Train?
For more information on how to make a stock donation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you accept donations via PayPal?
Yes. If you'd like to make a donation using PayPal, please visit our online donation form and select PayPal under 'How Would You Like to Pay?'
What information do I need to include Smile Train in my Will or life insurance policy?
Your solicitor will need the information below:
Official Organisation Name: Smile Train UK
Address: York House, Wetherby Road, York, YO26 7NH
Phone: 0300 124 5205
Registered Charity No. 1114748
Registered Company No. 05738962
How do I wire funds directly to Smile Train?
Please email email@example.com or call 0300 124 5205 to receive Smile Train UK bank details.
Can I donate via Direct Debit?
For more information about our Smile of the Month Club, please visit our Monthly Giving page or call 0300 124 5205.
Please click the following link to sign up via post:
How do I apply for a Matching Gift donation?
You can contact your HR department to find the rules and related forms required to apply for a Matching Gift donation.
How do I make a donation in someone’s honour or memory?
Visit our donation page and check the ‘This is an honorary gift’ box.
How do I obtain a copy of your Annual Report or Audited Financials?
Our latest Annual Reports and financial information are available on our Financials page.
About the Children
Can I restrict my gift to a certain country?
As part of our efforts to be as cost efficient as possible, we do not accept restricted gifts of less than £1,000 because the associated costs of administering these gifts are too high in relation to their value. However, if restricting your gift to a specific country is important to you, please contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 0300 124 5205 and we will do our best to accommodate your request.
Can I restrict my gift to either a boy or a girl?
Smile Train helps every child that comes to us, regardless of sex. We are unable to restrict donations to a specific gender.
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 so you can display the photo in your home as a happy reminder that there is a child smiling today thanks to you.
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. We can, however, promise that your donation will be used to help a child in desperate need of cleft surgery and related care.
Can I get the contact information for a child I saw in one of your marketing materials?
To maintain their privacy and uphold patient confidentiality, Smile Train does not release our patients’ contact information.
Why doesn’t Smile Train always show after surgery photos in all ads?
We test the results of all our advertising, and our research and analysis demonstrate that advertisements including only before photos raise significantly more funds to help children in need.
About Fundraising and Volunteering
Does Smile Train need volunteers?
There are a variety of ways for you to get involved with Smile Train, through fundraising or volunteering. To see how you can fundraise for Smile Train, visit the Get Involved section of our website. If you would like to volunteer your time to Smile Train, visit our Volunteer page. If you would like to fundraise or volunteer in a way not listed, please email email@example.com or call 0300 124 5205.
Can I create a personal fundraising page in support of Smile Train?
You can create a personal fundraising page by visiting JustGiving or Virgin Money Giving. Once created, you can upload pictures, share details of your fundraising event, let people know why you are supporting Smile Train, and spread the word of your fundraising by sharing your page via email and social media.
About Smile Train
What is Smile Train’s purpose?
You can read all about Smile Train's lifesaving work and our unique model here.
When was Smile Train started?
Smile Train was founded in 1999 and has since gone on to sponsor more than 1,500,000 cleft treatments for people of all ages in 90+ countries around the world.
What is Smile Train’s name exchange policy?
Smile Train does not sell or share donor details with anyone.
How do I make a complaint about Smile Train’s fundraising?
Smile Train is committed to providing free cleft treatment around the world and is dependent on voluntary donations to make that happen. We are equally committed to the highest standards of fundraising stewardship and operate strictly within the fundraising guidelines set by the Charity Commission, the Institute of Fundraising, and the Fundraising Regulator to ensure all our fundraising activity is open, fair, effective, and honest.
If you have any concerns about a Smile Train fundraising activity, dislike the way you have been asked for a donation, or are in any other way dissatisfied with our fundraising, please reach out to us according to the following steps:
Step 1 - Tell us about your concerns
The easiest way is to contact a Smile Train team member. You can contact us via:
Telephone: 0300 124 5205
Write to: Smile Train UK, York House, Wetherby Road, York, YO26 7NH
Step 2 - Make a formal complaint
To make a formal complaint about any aspect of Smile Train’s fundraising activities, contact our UK Director:
020 3805 7785
We will do our best to resolve any issue as quickly as possible and to your satisfaction. The receipt of your complaint will be acknowledged within five working days. Smile Train’s UK Director will oversee the investigation of any formal complaint to ensure it is fairly investigated. Upon completion of any necessary investigation, we will report the outcome to you directly, including the action taken to investigate your complaint, the conclusions, and any action taken as a result of your complaint. We aim to resolve all complaints within 28 days of receipt.
Step 3 - Contact the independent Fundraising Regulator
The Fundraising Regulator is an independent body that works to ensure charities raising money from the public do so honestly to protect the public, donors, and potential donors — not least those who may be vulnerable — from unacceptable fundraising practices. If you wish to raise a complaint with the Fundraising Regulator, please contact them at:
The Fundraising Regulator
CAN Mezzanine Building
49-51 East Road
London N1 6AH
Tel: 0300 999 3407
Is Smile Train different from other cleft organizations?
Smile Train is the world’s largest cleft-focused global NGO. We run according to a unique, sustainable model of supporting treatment through empowering local medical professionals that, since our founding in 1999, has enabled us to sponsor more cleft surgeries than all other global charities combined. The traditional mission model of flying doctors in for short-term treatment programmes 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 other forms of essential care such as nutritional support, speech therapy, orthodontics, dental care, and psychosocial counselling, to children in their own communities. Supporting Smile Train gives children access to a full range of lifesaving cleft treatment services that they would otherwise never have received and, ultimately, the opportunity for a better quality of life.
What is a cleft?
A cleft occurs when certain body parts and structures do not fuse together during foetal development. Clefts can involve the lip and/or the roof of the mouth (which is made up of both hard and soft palates). Clefts are a common birth difference that an estimated 200,000+ babies are born with every year globally. Without our help, the vast majority of these children would never receive the reconstructive surgery they need and would live their entire lives struggling to eat, breathe, speak, and fit in. That’s why Smile Train works 365 days a year to help every child with a cleft in need.
Do only developing countries have a problem with clefts?
Babies are born with clefts around the world. But because clefts are almost always treated soon after birth in “developed” nations like the UK, you seldom see people here with untreated clefts. Clefts are usually NOT treated in “developing” countries, however, because most families there cannot afford the cost of surgery and the government does not provide help.
Why does Smile Train focus on clefts?
Instead of doing a little bit of this and a little bit of that, Smile Train decided to choose one specific issue 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 know and work with major cleft surgeons, hospitals, foundations, research programmes, and educational institutions all over the world.
- Clefts are a significant problem affecting the lives of millions of children around the world.
- Treatment is safe and the transformation is immediate, with a Smile Train-supported cleft surgery costing as much as £150.
- The impact of cleft surgery is dramatic and immediate! 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!
Where does Smile Train work?
Smile Train currently works in more than 70 countries around the world. View a list of our active programmes.
How can I find help for a child born with a cleft in another country?
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the child’s location details so we can pass them onto the relevant team.
How do I find help for a child born with a cleft in the UK?
Virtually all children in the UK are covered by the NHS. Your local accredited craniofacial/cleft team can help you figure out which treatment is needed.
How can I find a qualified cleft surgeon in the UK?
Our website has the names and contact information for accredited cleft teams in the UK, PLUS we have thousands of pages of invaluable articles, medical information, resources and links for cleft patients and their families.
What is Smile Train doing to prevent clefts?
There are currently many experts actively investigating the aetiology 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 maternal nutrition which may increase or decrease the likelihood of a cleft forming. A few studies have found a potential link between folic acid and preventing clefts, whereas others have found no correlation. What we do know is that folic acid plays a critical role in embryonic development both 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 how they can best be healed through means such as nutritional support, surgery, speech therapy, dental care, and orthodontic treatment.
How does Smile Train keep track of the surgeries it sponsers?
We use all kinds of proprietary technology to save money and do things faster, cheaper, and smarter. Instead of mailing patient charts all over the world, we built an online digital patient database called “Smile Train Express”. Our local partners upload all of their patient records to this system, which not only saves millions in shipping, handling, and storage costs, but also allows us to instantly review and monitor the quality of their work.
What follow-up services does Smile Train provide?
When Smile Train was founded in 1999, we were only able to offer the initial surgery, but as we have expanded and our resources have grown, we are very happy to now be able to provide not only free follow-up surgeries, but also the comprehensive cleft care services, such as speech therapy, emotional support, nutritional services, and orthodontic care, that ensure that children with clefts have the opportunity to lead full and productive lives.
I have more questions, what should I do?
Please contact us using the details below – we are happy to answer any questions! Smile Train UK York House, Wetherby Road, York, YO26 7NH
Phone: 0300 124 5205