Author: Sam Hilton, AIM Director of Research

In March 2021 I received an odd letter. It was from a guy I didn't know, David Quarrey, the UK's National Security Advisor. The letter thanked me for providing external expertise to the UK government's Integrated Review, which had been published that morning. It turns out that the Integrated Review has made a public commitment to "review our approach to risk assessment" ... "including how we account for interdependencies, cascading and compound risks". This is something I'd been advocating for over the previous few months by writing a policy paper and engaging with politicians and civil servants. It's hard to know how much my input changed government policy but I couldn’t find much evidence of others advocating for this. I had set myself a 10-year goal to "have played a role in making the UK a leader in long-term resilience to extreme risks, championing the issue of extreme risks on the global stage." and I seemed to be making steps in that direction.

After a few years working on, and, I believe, successfully changing UK policy a number of times I came away with the view that policy change is really just not that hard. You think carefully about what you can change, tell policy people what they need to do, network a lot to make sure that they hear you, and then sometimes they listen and sometimes they don’t. But when they do you have pushed on a big lever and the world moves.

It has surprised me a bit being at CE (now AIM) and finding that our incubatees are not that keen on this indirect approach to changing the world. Policy work has slow feedback loops, can be hard to measure, and what are you even doing in a policy role anyway?! And I get that. But it is a damn big lever to just ignore.

So, firstly, I would like to share AIM’s guide to launching a policy NGO. This is a document I and others have been working on internally for AIM to help founders understand what policy roles are like, how to drive change, what works and what does not, how to measure impact, and so on. This is not the full program content but should give you a decent taste of the kind of support we can provide.

Secondly, I would like to note that AIM wants more founders who would be excited to start a policy organisation. If you think you could be plausibly excited about founding a policy organisation (or any of our upcoming recommended ideas!), I encourage you to apply for the Incubation Program here.

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Thank you so much for writing and sharing this resource Sam, and again I can't thank you enough for your support in helping us launch our policy org ORCG, we quite probably could not have done it without you.

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