Armstrong Foundation to Launch For-Profit Web Site

The Lance Armstrong Foundation in Austin, Texas, is partnering with Web site operator Demand Media, Inc. to launch a health and wellness Web site that will be funded by advertising, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Expected to go live this year, Livestrong.com will be a destination for people who want to count calories, track workouts, or connect with others trying to keep fit. As part of the deal, Armstrong and LAF will receive an equity stake in Demand Media, which is worth an estimated $1 billion and is run by former MySpace chairman Richard Rosenblatt.

LAF president Doug Ulman said the organization felt that launching a for-profit site would help increase awareness of its core mission of helping people with cancer. Visitors to the new site will be directed to the organization's "dot-org" Web site, which will benefit from a new technology platform and interactive features such as chat, blogs, and video. Demand Media will keep the ad revenue generated by the commercial site, but Rosenblatt said his company will reinvest much of it back into the Livestrong property.

While an equity stake in a Web site is unusual for a charitable organization, working with a for-profit company to raise cash and promote awareness is not. Susan G. Komen for the Cure has more than 170 corporate partners, and some charities are using for-profit fundraising tools such as investment term sheets and detailed growth projections to secure money from wealthy donors.

"I don't think we've ever met our full potential on the Web when it comes to the Livestrong.org site," said Armstrong. "But that's not our expertise. Our expertise is fighting cancer."

Rebecca Buckman. "Cyclist's Foundation Links to For-Profit." Wall Street Journal 01/28/2008.