Where the Money Goes


When I speak to outside groups at business functions, I am often asked a couple of questions:

  1. What are the primary sources of revenue for the foundation?
  2. Where does the money go and what programs are funded with donor contributions?

Both of these are excellent questions and we thought it would also be a good topic to share with our constituents.

What are the primary sources of revenue for the foundation?

  • The foundation has raised over $400 million in revenues since inception in 1997.
  • The foundation generates its revenues from a variety of sources. General giving from the public represents 34%, Fundraising Events (like the LIVESTRONG Challenge) generate 24%, Merchandise Sales ? 22%, and Cause Marketing and Business Development Initiatives generate 14%. A few miscellaneous sources comprise the remaining 6%.
  • Each year we are fortunate to receive contributions from more than 215,000 donors who support our programs and are anxious to see our programs continue and our reach of new initiatives expanded.

Where does the money go and what programs are funded with donor contributions?

Non-profit industry standards suggest that leading charitable organizations should spend at least 65-75% of their expenses on program services. This helps ensure that the majority of donor dollars are devoted to specific programs and not used to cover administrative overhead or fundraising expenses. At the foundation, more than $245 million (81% of each dollar spent) has been invested directly in cancer programs, initiatives, and advocacy efforts to change the way the world fights cancer.

  • $135 million (55%) has been spent on specific Cancer programs and initiatives. A few examples: 2011 plans to serve over 325,000 people with LIVESTRONG at the YMCA, LIVESTRONG at School, and Community programs. Our Cancer Navigation Services reach more than 600,000 each year. Our Young Adult programs reach 22,000, our Hispanic/Latino programs help 34,000.
  • $78 million (32%) has been spent on Research, Community Program, Centers of Excellence Grants and Awards. A good example of this is our current Community Impact Projects where we are selecting 90 community based non-profits all over the country that will receive LAF funding to provide specific programs right in their local communities. We are planning to award over $700,000 to these groups.
  • $32 million (13%) has been spent on Advocacy and Engagement activities and initiatives. Good examples of these initiatives are our current Smoke Free initiatives and campaigns being conducted at local and statewide levels throughout the nation.

At LIVESTRONG we pride ourselves in financial transparency. We will be posting more of these blogs throughout the year. More information about our financials can be found on our 990s and annual reports on our website. If you have any specific questions about LIVESTRONG?s finances, please leave them in the comments section below. We will answer them as soon as possible.


  1. Okay so when I buy a LA bike jersey from your site, how much goes in as a donation, how much is subtracted for the cost of the jersey etc.? I think you should put the (AMOUNT DONATED BY THE PURCHASE OF THIS ITEM: $___. ) on every single product you sell in the name of transparent fund raising.

    John McElhenney

    1. John- 100% of all proceeds of merchandise go to the foundation. Each product has a cost to manufacture- just as any product would, but 100% of the proceeds go to the foundation.

  2. John Abrams says:

    what would it take for LAF to attain the highest rating from charity navigator (http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=6570) and is the foundation interested in that?


  3. Mary says:

    Could you please tell me specifically how much money per dollar goes for lung cancer research?

    1. Mary- LIVESTRONG is not a site-specific organization and we are not a traditional funding source for research. We did at one time, but we turned to focus on other areas. There are many wonderful groups out there that fundraise specifically for cancer research and those specific to lung cancer. LIVESTRONG focuses on supporting and empowering people with all types of cancer- including lung cancer survivors. We offer direct service (the navigation services mentioned in the post) and advocate for cancer funding on the national level. We are globally making cancer a priority through our efforts at the UN.

  4. Erin Schuster says:

    I am curious, does Livestrong offer any financial support for cancer victims?

    1. LIVESTRONG offers assistance locating funding. We work directly with groups that get access to care for patients that have no insurance, help settle and negotiate medical debt, cover copays, access to medical devices and medications free of charge or low cost and more. Visit http://www.livestrong.org/Get-Help/Get-One-On-One-Support for more info.

  5. Cancer Survivor Cyclist says:

    I am confused:

    $245 million “has been directly invested”/ “raised over $400 million in revenues” equals less than 61.25%.

    In these days of questionable spending by at least one high profile non-profit, your numbers need better explanation.

    1. The full response is listed in the comments, but just a brief recap- The portion of funds riased went to the endowment to ensure the long-term stability of the foundation. Of the funds spent, 81% were spent on programs.

      Greg Lee

  6. Mary says:

    I think LiveStrongs marketing needs to spread themselves more widely. I saw no literature, posters, nor pamplets at my local cancer center.

    1. Mary- We are always looking to distribute our information in hospitals, clinics and g.p. offices. Please email us the name and address for the facilities and we will send information ASAP. We currently have partnerships with major hospitals and organizations that distribute information. We also have local LIVESTRONG Leaders- advocates in communities- that distribute materials as well. Email livestrong@livestrong.org. Thanks so much!

  7. david says:


    i am confused. you state that the foundation has raised over $400 million and that $245 mill or 81% of every $ spent goes to programs. but when you do the math 245 mill/.81 that = $302,4691,360 not $400 mill. or put another way 81% of 400 mill is $324 mill not $245 mill

    245 miill/400 mill= 61.25% below the 65% to 75% you reference and not even close to 81%.

    the fuzzy math is at best offensively misleading and considering you are the cfo an explanation would be greatly appreciated.

    1. The full response is listed in response to the other comments, but here is a brief recap. We placed a portion of the funds raised into the endowment to ensure the long-term stability of the foundation. Of the money spent, 81% was spent on programs.

      Greg Lee

  8. Barry says:

    Greg, thanks for writing this. However, I think this fails to cover the basics that concern a lot of people. I am guessing the “Advocacy and Engagement” Financial Statement line item is where a lot of the controversy is “embedded.”

    While I realize that you have no obligation to disclose your full accounting records, you must be aware that until you address the concerns surrounding the expense account of a certain high profile engager and advocate, people will continue to question the integrity with which their donations are spent.

    I really like the Livestrong initiative, and wish for it to be strengthened with a little disclosure so we can all get back to the important business of fighting cancer!



  9. Cindy says:

    Greg and Brooke,
    Thank you for the information! Can you please provide examples of Cause Marketing and Business Development Initiatives?

    1. Yes- The relationship with Nike, Oakley, American Century Insurance and others such as the new LIVESTRONG Sporting Part in Kansas City. Here is a link to more information: http://www.livestrong.org/Who-We-Are/Our-Strength/Our-Donors/Corporate-Partners

  10. Kathy says:

    OK, I think you guys are great. I don’t doubt that your management is sound, your ethics are high, and you’re doing good things.

    But I used my noodle and there’s something missing, because the numbers don’t add up:
    $400 mill raised- WOW!

    $245 mill=81% of dollars spent on Cancer projects- more WOW!

    So 19% is spent on Admin, right? (pays for your salary and lots of other good people, too!) That’s a really good rate of return.

    But that means Total dollars spent are about $300 mill. ($245 is 81% of $302)

    So where’s the other $100 mill? ($400 revenue minus $300 exp’s)

    Please know, no disrespect is intended! There’s lots of good ways this money could be used, or even invested for future returns. Just want to clear up the confusion. I’m sure I’m overlooking something, but that’s 25% of total revenue so I just had to ask. Thanks for your willingness to be so transparent. it’s a good example for other charities.


    1. Kathy

      I wanted to call attention to the answer posted regarding the funds used. Just a brief answer here- The additional funds have been placed in our endowment to ensure the stability of the foundation for future needs. Of the funds that were spent, 81% was spent on programs.

      -Greg Lee

  11. Python says:

    LIVESTRONG thanks a million for the great information. I spend most of my time telling people or directing people to your organization for help. Now that you have made it clear to the haters out there that you spend all the money on the Livestrong foundation this should stop some of the nonsense. I love you guys and LA. I love what you do for everyone around the world.

  12. michael smith says:


    Please forgive me, but I’m having a little trouble with the math used.
    $400 million total
    135 for cancer programs
    78 for research, community stuff and awards
    32 for advocacy

    That’s 61% of each of the $400 million mentioned, not 81%. Maybe I’m missing something that accounts for the other 20%?

    Maybe it would help if you didn’t use so many numbers?

    1. I appreciate your question about the math involved in calculating our LAF program spending percentages.
      Thru December 31, 2010, the foundation had raised a total of $392 million during its first 13 years. Of this total, the foundation has spent $302 million in total spending (the rest has been invested in long-term endowment and other investment funds to provide for long-term support of cancer programs and initiatives). Of this $302 million in total spending, $245 million or 81.1% has been spent specifically on programs.
      During the 1st Qtr of 2011, the foundation has raised another $12 million, bringing our total revenues since inception up to $404 million. As a result, our program spending has also gone up during these last few months.
      Thanks again for your question. We are committed to providing 1st class service and conducting our business operations with full disclosure and transparency. Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can provide additional information or answer further questions.

      -Greg Lee

      1. Cancer Survivor Cyclist says:

        Thank you for the reply.

        If you have approx. $100 million dollars sitting off to the side ‘for long-term support’, then you obviously don’t need me to donate any money (especially if you are going to ‘invest’ about 25% of it for yourselves).

        You should also be more honest and accurate in stating the percentage of money raised which is actually spent on awareness (or whatever is your main mission). It’s really about 61%, not 81%.

        1. An endowment provides financial stability, makes long-range planning possible thanks to a predictable stream of income, and protects the institution in years when other revenue is reduced. It is a responsible measure to place money in the endowment to ensure the future of our services. Our operating budget is approximately $42 million a year, so an endowment investment of 100 million is a reasonable amount. LIVESTRONG’s endowment is small as compared to other organizations and institutions. As always, let us know if you have other questions.

  13. Niko says:

    What if anything is the difference between Livestrong.com and Livestrong.org? Were they both started by Lance?

    1. There is a difference between .com and .org. LIVESTRONG.org is the website for the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LIVESTRONG) and hosts information about the FOundation’s efforts, support materials and advocacy and fundraising efforts. LIVESTRONG.com is a health and wellness site that has licensed the name LIVESTRONG. The site went public recently. The company that owns the site, Demand Media, was able to donate 1.5 million to the foundation due to the IPO. Lance donate the sale of a portion of his stock to the foundation. The total amount donated from the cause marketing arrangement so far is 3 million.

  14. michael papet says:


    When I bought a Livestrong exercise bike from my local Dick’s, I paid extra because I wanted to help fund your work. But there wasn’t anything in the box saying what part of the purchase goes to fighting cancer.

    How much of my $1500 went towards fighting cancer?

    God bless you for your good deeds.

    1. $1K of the special edition bike available through LIVESTRONGFitness.com is donated to the foundation. (retail price is $1699). A guaranteed $4 million from Johnson Health Tech (the company that creates the bikes) will be donated to the foundation. Your purchase is part of that guaranteed $4 million. Thanks so much for your support!

  15. WoodyA says:

    I know where the money goes starting tomorrow – to the attorneys!

    1. What exactly do you mean by that? Yes, we do have a staff attorney. She also serves as the head of HR. We’ll be glad to answer any questions you may have.

  16. This is a fund raising question/comment. I traveled down from Boston to complete my 3rd Philly Livestrong Challenge 100 mile ride. As always it was inspirational and I will continue participating and raising money every year until we eradicate this terrible disease.

    I check my bike for the flight down and the Boston based crew of Southwest Airlines saw it in their hearts to support patients living with cancer and do their part by waiving the bike fee. The Philly base personnel however were not so inclined and made me wait for an hour before forcing me to pay. I don’t think this is right. What can we do?

    1. I’m sorry to hear that. I would suggest contacting the main Southwest Airlines headquarters and discuss the issue. They are normally very accommodating and may give you a refund- although I can’t promise this of course. I’ll let the Challenge team know as well. Keep us informed of what happened.

  17. Hannah Mckeel says:

    Does Livestrong use the money donated to fund abortions? I know Livestrong supports them, but do you guys use the money we donate to help fund or financially support abortions?

    1. LIVESTRONG has no official stance for or against abortions. We are a cancer support and advocacy organization. If you could please pass on where you heard this information we would appreciate it. For more information about what we do please visit: http://www.livestrong.org.

  18. How much money goes to senior executives? How much is Lance lining his pockets with?

  19. LIVESTRONG says:

    You need to actually read the 990 or annual report as the information is public and available in links in the blog above and on our website. We believe in transparency.
    Lance has never received a salary from the foundation. In fact, he is the largest individual donor to the Foundation with over $6.5 mil donated.

  20. Derek Arcuri says:

    What a bold question Carbonview Research. Research being your specialty, you couldn’t research the annual reports before addressing Livestrong?

    I’m interested in finding out what marketing campaigns are leveraged to increase brand equity, in particular mindshare. I’m also curious of the ROMI on these marketing campaigns. I am confident that an organization like Livestrong invests every cherished donation wisely and strategically for marketing return, which inevitably leads to social return. Care to discuss Livestrong?

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