Listening to Leaders

Helping development agencies be more responsive to partner priorities and maximize their impact with Global South leaders

Policy relevant insights from regular surveys and snap polls to 100,000 government, civil society, and private sector leaders across 140 developing countries

New Report

Aid Reimagined

Program Overview

360 degree feedback on development priorities, progress and performance

AidData triangulates information from its biennial surveys, snap polls, and interviews to produce public reports and bespoke analysis that help development agencies be more responsive to partner priorities and maximize their impact with Global South leaders. Our analysis regularly feeds into agency-wide evaluations and strategy reviews, as well as international standard-setting bodies, such as MOPAN, Paris21 and the OECD. Our team members advise both development agencies and Global South policy research organizations on how they can build stronger in-house capabilities to assess policy influence.

Focus Areas

Listening to Leaders Survey

Fielded every two to three years, Listening to Leaders survey captures perceptions and experiences from policymakers in 140 low- and middle income countries over time on a series of topics such as development priorities, donor performance and data uptake. It provides comparative view across stakeholder groups, sectors and geographic regions. AidData has fielded three waves in 2014, 2017, and 2020, and the resulting flagship reports have been featured in NPR’s Goats & Soda Blog, The Washington, Post, The BBC, and The Financial Times.

Snap Polls

Snap polls, which are shorter surveys of typically 12-15 questions, facilitate a deeper dive into a specific topic when the broader landscape is already known. Often fielded to a small and targeted group of individuals, snap polls can provide additional insights into questions that are uncovered by the large-n Listening to Leaders survey. In collaboration with the Brookings Institution, AidData's 2017 snap poll on education data garnered insights from over 300 policymakers. In 2018, in collaboration with PARIS21 and Open Data Watch, over 1,000 policymakers provided their views on national statistics.

Custom Analysis and Advice

Drawing upon data from Listening to Leaders survey and snap polls, AidData produces a wide range of custom analysis, profiles or datasets for public use or the internal needs of funding partners. Survey data analysis is often paired with qualitative data collected through key-informant interviews or desk research to generate custom analysis.

Featured Publications

Policy Report

Aid Reimagined: How can foreign assistance support locally-led development?

Samantha Custer, Ana Horigoshi, Amber Hutchinson, Vera Choo, Kelsey Marshall


Policy Report

Listening to Leaders 2021: A report card for development partners in an era of contested cooperation

Samantha Custer, Tanya Sethi, Rodney Knight, Amber Hutchinson, Vera Choo, Mengfan Cheng


Policy Report

Development Cooperation from a Partner Perspective: How can Germany and other donors perform better in the eyes of their partner countries?

DEval — German Institute for Development Evaluation

Kerstin Guffler, Ani Harutyunyan, Matthew DiLorenzo, Tanya Sethi, Mirko Eppler, Marie-Sophie Heinelt


Journal Article

Aid Management, Trust, and Development Policy Influence: New Evidence from a Survey of Public Sector Officials in Low-Income and Middle-Income Countries

Studies in Comparative International Development

Takaaki Masaki, Bradley C. Parks, Jörg Faust, Stefan Leiderer, Matthew D. DiLorenzo


Journal Article

When do performance assessments influence policy behavior? Micro-evidence from the 2014 Reform Efforts Survey

The Review of International Organizations

Takaaki Masaki Jr, Bradley C. Parks


Policy Report

Counting on Statistics: How can national statistical offices and donors increase use?

Tanya Sethi, Mihir Prakash



Tuning in to a New Perspective

This video is an overview of LTL's 360 degree feedback on development priorities, progress, and performance from the perspective of leaders in low- and middle-income countries. We research convergence and divergence in priorities; barriers and opportunities to advance reforms; performance of development partners; and evidence-informed policymaking.

Bridging the Gap between Leaders and Citizens

This video provides a case study into the Listening to Leaders 2018 report, which draws upon the unique experiences and perspectives of government officials, civil society leaders, private sector representatives, and development partners working on the ground in developing countries. 

Program Team

For technical or research inquires, contact:

Policy Analysis

Samantha Custer

Director of Policy Analysis

Policy Analysis

Rodney Knight

Deputy Director of Research

Policy Analysis

Ana Horigoshi

Senior Research Analyst

Policy Analysis

Emily Dumont

Senior Program Manager

Policy Analysis

Jonathan A. Solis

Senior Research Analyst

Policy Analysis

Kelsey Marshall

Program Manager

Alex Wooley

Director of Partnerships and Communications