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Lance Armstrong confesses. Can Livestrong survive? (+video)

Lance Armstrong’s story and image used to be the Livestrong foundation’s greatest fundraising asset. Now it’s a liability. Can Livestrong go on without Lance? 

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Moving forward

Livestrong, has raised nearly $500 million for cancer-related causes over its 15-year existence, but it has cut its 2013 budget by 10.9 percent from 2012.  Waters expects the foundation to survive, but probably not as visibly.

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“Livestrong has really stood out the past few years as the top cancer cause out there,” he says. “What you’re going to find is post-Lance, it will still be a good organization, but its not going to be the top force that it was. It lost its luster.”

But Ken Berger, president and CEO of Charity Navigator, an evaluator of nonprofits based in Glen Rock, N.J., argues that Livestrong has been slowly weaning itself off Lance Armstrong for the past few years. “They have been trying to create a separate identity recently as much as they can,” he says. “But now that things are really coming to a head, they really are being hurt. Big corporate money has stepped back, and with even those remaining, it’s not clear they will continue that commitment. We anticipate that the next time we see an IRS filing, their financials will not be as strong.”

Berger points out that even the appearance of a conflict of interest can be a problem with charities tied to a celebrity figure. “When it’s used as a vehicle to promote themselves, or their incomes are intertwined with the nonprofit, That’s where we see the trouble happens," he says. 

But he still thinks that Livestrong’s is a cause worth saving. “There is a core of people who are very committed to Livestrong. We you take all that the extra stuff away and look at how they fulfill their mission, they do a lot of really good stuff," he says.  "We hear so many great things about the service and programs they provide.  So I hope they learn from this and that they do survive.” 

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