Operation Smile

How Russ Reid helped Operation Smile evolve into a sophisticated, multi-channel, holistic marketing organization with the power to rescue more children than it ever thought possible.


Operation Smile has over 5,000 volunteers across 76 countries, and each one is committed to providing cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries for impoverished children. As you might expect, a charitable organization that specializes in surgical intervention requires constant growth. When Operation Smile’s growth began to slip, they challenged Russ Reid to help them increase their visibility, donor base and net revenue through a multi-channel marketing strategy.

Across every channel, Operation Smile’s donor audience needed to know what was at stake and, above all, why their donations mattered. TV crews and photographers travelled to Venezuela and Vietnam and returned with before and after pictures. We showed that “Cleft Palate Surgery” isn’t just a procedure—it’s a life saved, a future restored. As our donor audience responded, we scaled up new initiatives, including a website redesign. Continued success brought more audience data, and more data enabled better-segmentation and targeting across television, direct-mail and city-by-city campaigns. Operation Smile reached the point where it could build the core mission while nimbly mounting emergency aid for events like the 2010 Haiti earthquake—a sign that it had become a true leader in the space, as well as a force for good.

Our Impact


increase in average gifts


increase in annual giving per donor


increase in number of active donors


increase in direct response revenue