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Fact Sheet: Cafe Press and Autism Speaks

FACT SHEET: CAFE PRESS AND AUTISM SPEAKS

Earlier this week, Cafe Press announced that the company will be donating 10% of all purchases on products tagged with “Autism” to Autism Speaks. Cafe Press is a popular online store which allows individuals to sell t-shirts, mugs and other merchandise with their own designs. Many within the autism and Autistic communities use this website to sell their designs, including many Autistic adults who oppose Autism Speaks.

We are appalled by Cafe Press forcing vendors to raise funding for Autism Speaks against their conscience and the lack of options for those who wish not to support this organization. Anyone who has ethical problems with Autism Speaks is now being forced to give money to the organization. With Autism Speaks’ blatant exclusion of Autistic adults on their board of directors and in executive positions, negative message about Autism, and propagation of stigmas and stereotypes of Autistic people, there should be a choice.

ASAN has compiled this briefing sheet with contact info for Cafe Press to help you rally the community to contact Cafe Press and tell them how you feel. With only 4% of funds raised by Autism Speaks going to services for Autistic individuals and their families, we should all take a firm stance to tell Cafe Press that this must end. Please take the time to e-mail and call Cafe Press and to urge all those you can reach to do the same.

THE ISSUE:

Cafe Press, a popular online store that allows individuals to sell t-shirts, mugs and other merchandise with their own designs on it, is donating 10% of the purchase price for all autism-related products to Autism Speaks in the month of April.

TALKING POINTS:

– Autism Speaks is an organization which fails to include a single Autistic adult on their board of directors and more than token representation in other parts of their organization.

– Only 4% of the funds donated to Autism Speaks go to services for individuals and families.

– Autism Speaks’ advertising relies on fear and pity to raise money and results in increased stigma and stereotypes about Autistic people.

– By automatically donating funds to Autism Speaks on all autism related purchases, Cafe Press is forcing shopkeepers who have ethical problems with Autism Speaks to give money to an organization they oppose.

SAMPLE E-MAIL:

Dear Cafe Press:

I’m writing as a customer to express my disappointment with your decision to donate 10% of all sales of autism-related products to Autism Speaks. Autism Speaks is not a neutral or non-controversial charity. Many adults on the autism spectrum and family members have grave concerns about Autism Speaks’ operating practices and fundraising tactics. Autism Speaks fails to include any Autistic adults on their board of directors or in executive positions. Furthermore, only 4% of the funds donated to Autism Speaks go to services for individuals and families. Many people who care about autism issues find Autism Speaks’ advertising and fundraising strategies – which rely on fear, pity and spreading stereotypes about Autistic people – deeply unethical. By forcing your vendors and customers who sell and buy autism-related products to donate money to an organization they are morally opposed to, you break the bonds of trust that connect you with your customer and vendor base. I urge you to reconsider your donation to Autism Speaks – and I will be withholding my business from Cafe Press until you do.

Sincerely,
[NAME HERE]

CONTACT INFO FOR CAFE PRESS:

Bob Marino, President: bmarino@cafepress.com
Monica Johnson, CFO: mjohnson@cafepress.com
Abdul Popal, VP Business/Dev Operations: apopal@cafepress.com
Amy Maniatis, VP Marketing: amaniatis@cafepress.com
Sumant Sridharan, Head of Online Acquisitions: ssridharan@cafepress.com
Kara Parsons, VP Consumer/Retail: kparsons@cafepress.com
Marc Cowlin, Public Relations Manager: mcowlin@cafepress.com
Cafe Press PR Department Phone Number: 650-655-3095

Please bcc: info@autisticadvocacy.org so we can keep track of the progress of the campaign and make sure that Cafe Press cannot claim not to have received the e-mails you or those you contact send.

Update, April 25: Cafe Press has responded to our concerns. Click here for more information.

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