It may be the season for giving, but not all presents can be wrapped and put under the tree.
Quest Workspaces, a shared and private workspace company with eight locations throughout Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, has since 2012 donated to South Florida charities rent-free office space valued at about $200,000.
Quest founder Laura Kozelouzek said she was inspired by many local nonprofits and the people who dedicate their lives to helping others.
“It’s almost like the concept of a shared economy where you have these extra resources and putting those resources to good use,” Kozelouzek said. “We were surprised that we had such a tremendous response. The original idea was to give away one office, and we ended up receiving over a dozen applicants. At that point, we thought we needed to figure out a way to help each one of them.”
The startup entrepreneurial nonprofits are offered services including conference rooms, virtual offices and access to a network of companies within Quest Workspaces. Some have received pro-bono services, volunteers from neighboring colleagues and networking opportunities.
Charities are encouraged to apply through a link on the website, www.questworkspaces.com/questcares.php. Kozelouzek and Quest head of marketing Vanessa Vega research the applicants and decide who to choose.
“The stories are so heartwarming, and I was so inspired by what so many people are doing that I told my team that for me giving away the space was so much more satisfying than even renting it. I felt like Santa Claus,” Kozelouzek laughs. “I got them on the phone and gave them the great news, and there were tears, and it’s such a beautiful thing. It’s become a part of our culture. A lot of what Quest is about is developing the community within our space, and our clients are connecting and supporting one another.”
Kozelouzek said the hardest part is selecting who will get the office. At any given time, there are up to eight nonprofits working out of Quest offices. Spaces, depending on size, are valued between $500 and $2,000 a month. Quest usually commits to a year of free rent, but the company has hosted some nonprofits for up to four years.
Kozelouzek and the Quest team opened their latest location in Plantation and are currently accepting applications from nonprofits and charities that need office space in the area.
Among the nonprofits helped by Quest: Hispanic LGBTQ-rights group Unity Coalition; civil-rights group Dream Defenders; and antibullying group NVEEE or National Voices for Equality, Education and Enlightenment.
NVEEE founder and executive director Jowharah Sanders heard of Quest through a friend and applied online for the office space.
Sanders said the support of Quest has allowed her to get NVEEE off the ground and has helped her apply for grants and other opportunities. Her company originally was based out of her home in Broward, which disallowed her from applying for some grants. Since NVEEE got a home at 777 Brickell Ave., the nonprofit has been able to work with organizations including Florida International University and the Miami Foundation.
“So many doors have opened up for us because we have a physical location,” Sanders said. “Losing this location would be detrimental because we still don’t have the type of budget to afford it. We’re mostly run by volunteers, and 97 percent of the money that is brought into the organization is donated through grants or private citizens goes back to our programs and services.
“There aren’t many organizations that can say 97 percent, and the reason we can do that is that we don’t pay for lots of overhead or office space. They have hooked us up over here, but we needed people, in the beginning, to believe in us and help us out as much as possible.”
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To learn more about Quest Workspaces, or if you’re a nonprofit looking to apply for an office: www.questworkspaces.com/questcares_donate.php