When Liberator Fund founder Peter Hendrickson first walked through the doors of the Portland State Business Accelerator, his only intention was to attend a coding camp at the PDX Code Guild housed within its walls. As he looked around the room, however, he was struck by the names and images of startup companies around him.
Just a few weeks prior, he had entered another building for the first time – a church - and had received a message from the preacher up front which, at the time, had seemed surprising and strange. One day soon, the man had declared, Hendrickson would start a business. In the halls of the Accelerator, the memory came flooding back. And with the rush of inspiration, also came the name of the church he had unwittingly attended - Liberation. It was enough to convince Hendrickson to throw in his chips and apply to the Accelerator with an idea for a startup of his own.
Beyond its name, the Liberator Fund represents the culmination of many paths taken by Hendrickson throughout his career. Before entering the entrepreneurial sector, Hendrickson had taken part in humanitarian operations in a number of countries ranging from Afghanistan to Liberia as an army ranger. Combining Hendrickson’s military experience with strategic planning, academic background in finance, and corporate experience working in investment and real estate, the Fund is meant to support the efforts of non-profit organizations involved in the freeing of the oppressed both at home and abroad.
“In the special forces community, we have a motto: de oppreso liber. From an oppressed man, a free one. It’s been something that’s been stuck in my head for a long time,” said Hendrickson. “My hope for this fund is to use money to extend the reach, scope, and impact of organizations directly involved with making positive changes around the globe.”
One of the greatest challenges nonprofits face in the pursuit of their missions is a lack of stable and consistent financial resources. Smaller organizations especially may not have the means or knowhow to effectively launch fundraising campaigns to bring in new funding. Likewise, groups may not possess the financial expertise to manage or invest their resources towards future goals.
“A lot of organizations struggle to escape this never-ending cycle of raising money. They’re caught in a mindset that’s more in line with surviving than of long-term thriving,” said Hendrickson.
The Liberator Fund itself will run as a hybrid of profit and non-profit operations. As a financial advising firm, it will help to expand the financial resources of existing entities, using proprietary models developed by Hendrickson to produce superior returns on their investments. As an endowment, it will take in, manage, and grow funds independently with the purpose of dispersing these funds later on to worthy organizations the world over.
Though the Fund has not been advertised publicly and has primarily been operating through word-of-mouth contacts, it has already been in communication with a number of non-profits interested in partnering with Hendrickson and his team. One such organization is involved with using art to promote diplomacy in areas greatly affected by inter-faith disputes. Another aims to provide access to medical equipment and medicine to areas in need at highly discounted rates.
“At the end of the day, there are these incredible things that people want to do, and it’s usually finances that keep them from doing it effectively. With the fund, we’re hoping to finally remove that barrier,” said Hendrickson.
After a few years in development, the Fund is on track to fully solidify its license by the end of 2021. With it, Hendrickson believes the scope of the Fund will grow and allow it to connect with an even greater number of organizations. “I’m looking forward to seeing the stories of good that will come out of the work these organizations will do in the future.”