Operation Smile is a legitimate charity registered with the Internal Revenue Service, and it meets a majority of the Better Business Bureau's charity accountability standards in the categories of governance, effectiveness, finances and fundraising. The charity falls short in the areas of board meetings and board compensation, but it actively addresses complaints.
Through its medical programs, Operation Smile provides surgical care to low-income children living in communities around the world. After the organization selects a community, its volunteers travel to a chosen destination, and surgical teams perform operations. The organization performs numerous cleft palate surgeries on children at any given time, and demand is so great that it must turn some patients away. When Operation Smile volunteers visit a community, volunteers work closely with local health care providers and strive to respect local cultural traditions. The charity operates care centers in some locations to provide ongoing medical care for complex cases.
Operation Smile researches cleft palate problems and seeks to understand its causes. It also does research to develop new surgical treatments for the condition. In addition to research, the organization shares knowledge through training and education programs. Operation Smile is an advocate for safe and expedient access to cleft palate surgical treatment.