How to donate your artwork to charity auctions without losing money (incl. free contract template)

I take anonymous questions about work, art, and chronic illness via NGL and answer one a week in a blog post. This week's question wasn't anonymous and came through an Instagram message, but it was something I wish I had known the answer to starting out. It asked:

"I've noticed The Hong Konger selling at auctions. I'm also an artist and have been asked to auction artwork too, but I find it hard to justify giving away work for free. I don't earn much, and the art I'm being asked to give away is a big source of money for me. Plus, I think it's tone-deaf for prestigious charities to ask struggling artists for free work. Being paid in exposure isn’t enough. How do you afford to auction your art?" (Edited for length and clarity.)

The short answer is: I don't give my art away for free. Instead, I:

1. Scope three causes to support