Nonprofit organizations have the unique opportunity to make a real difference in people’s lives. Operation Smile is one organization making a widespread impact in communities across the globe by helping children and families avoid long-term health and social problems due to a lack of health care options.
Keep reading to learn more about Operation Smile, the organization’s impact, and its future.
What is Operation Smile?
Operation Smile is a nonprofit organization that works to provide surgical care to fix cleft lips and cleft palates of people who otherwise wouldn’t have access to care. Cleft lips and palates can cause health difficulties, such as problems with speaking, breathing, and eating, if they aren’t fixed.
Operation Smile provides care in countries worldwide where residents lack accessible health care. The organization is made up of volunteer medical professionals who are trained to provide safe and effective treatment to children and patients. Many doctors and dentists who volunteer with Operation Smile are from the communities the organization serves.
Aside from surgical procedures, Operation Smile focuses on building sustainable systems for long-term care. To provide safe medical services, the organization often needs to launch new medical centers where treatment can continue to be provided in the future.
Mostly made up of local volunteers, Operation Smile also invests in the education and training of medical professionals from the countries that the organization serves. These actions help underserved communities by setting them up for accessible healthcare going forward.
History of Operation Smile
Operation Smile was founded in 1982 by Dr. Bill Magee Jr. and his wife, Kathy. After traveling to the Philippines to repair facial deformities like cleft lips and palates, they started Operation Smile to continue their work worldwide.
Since its founding, Operation Smile has expanded its purpose to include the building of sustainable healthcare systems in underserved communities. However, the organization’s mission remains the same—to promote good health and well-being by fixing the facial deformities of those who would otherwise lack access to these procedures.
Impact of Operation Smile
Since its founding in 1982, Operation Smile has provided over 326,000 people with surgical and dental care, improving their long-term physical and emotional health.
It’s undeniable that Operation Smile has had a widespread impact. Procedures to fix birth defects like cleft palates prevent obstacles to eating and breathing, which can lead to serious health problems like malnourishment. They also prevent social obstacles that can come from these patients’ struggles to fit in with their peers.
The majority of volunteers were health care professionals from low- and middle-income countries trained by Operation Smile.
Beyond the impact Operation Smile has on its patients, it also makes an enormous difference in the communities they serve through the creation of care centers all over the world to promote long-term health in underserved communities. The organization’s efforts to train medical professionals across the globe also help to ensure a long-term impact on residents and communities alike.
Funding and partnerships
As a nonprofit organization, Operation Smile is largely funded by donations and foundations. In 2021 alone, Operation Smile received over 84 million dollars in monetary contributions.
The organization is also supported through in-kind gifts and services. For instance, medical professionals who volunteer their time are considered in-kind donors because they donate their time and services without compensation. Operation Smile also offers contribution options to donate stock or cryptocurrency to support their cause.
Additionally, Operation Smile has a program called Smile Funds, which allows supporters to share information about the organization with friends and family by providing a link for people to make a donation. Smile Funds are a simple way to crowdfund and reach more people to support the organization’s cause.
Aside from contributions from charity supporters, Operation Smile has many partnerships with foundations, companies and other organizations. Some notable partnerships include:
- Johnson & Johnson
- Align Technology
- Baxter International Foundation
- Balsam Hill
Future goals of Operation Smile
In 2021, Operation Smile set a goal to provide care for 1 million patients by the year 2032, which will mark the 50-year anniversary of the organization. This goal will require the expansion of sustainable long-term care efforts.
Operation Smile has stated that they hope to accomplish this by increasing opportunities for women in medicine and expanding training and education efforts for healthcare professionals across the globe.
This is a major aspiration for Operation Smile that will require more funding and volunteers to make it possible. Like any nonprofit, obtaining enough qualified and trained volunteers to achieve its mission will be one of the biggest challenges they face. However, with the wide range of support that the organization has, there is certainly potential to reach its goal of providing care to 1 million patients.
The importance of Operation Smile
Operation Smile highlights the crucial need for more access to healthcare. By providing needed care, training local medical professionals, and supporting underserved communities, Operation Smile is helping to build sustainable systems for safe and accessible healthcare.
The possibilities for Operation Smile’s impact are endless. With strong support from partners, donors and volunteers, Operation Smile can continue to make a difference in the lives of patients, healthcare providers and communities across the globe.
Visit their website to see how you can get involved and make a difference.
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