Listening to Leaders

Would you like to partner with us on the next Listening to Leaders Survey, which will field in late 2023?

Preps are underway for the fourth wave of the influential survey which reaches AidData's custom-built sampling frame of more than 100,000+ leaders in over 140 countries. Building upon previous waves, we will collect updated information on country development priorities and feedback on the performance of donors. In addition, the 2023 survey is likely to include new topics related to financing for development, short-term crises and long-term global goals, and great power competition versus cooperation in tackling collective action challenges. Country leaders, multilateral and bilateral aid agencies and banks, and media and civil society rely on findings from Listening to Leaders, which is fielded every three years. The OECD's new 2023 Development Cooperation Report, "Debating the Aid System," relied on the Listening to Leaders Survey and AidData's analysis for the chapter on "Responding to Global South views on development priorities, progress and partner performance."

If you are interested in the upcoming 2023 Listening to Leaders Survey, contact Alex Wooley, AidData's Director of Partnerships and Communications. +1.757.585.9875

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.


Policy Report

Report Chapter: "Responding to Global South views on development priorities, progress and partner performance"

OECD Development

Samantha Custer, Ana Horigoshi, Kelsey Marshall


Policy Report

Delivering the Belt and Road: Decoding the supply of and demand for Chinese overseas development projects

Ana Horigoshi, Samantha Custer, Bryan Burgess, Kelsey Marshall, Vera Choo, Katie Andrzejewski, and Emily Dumont


Policy Report

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

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


Working Paper

Dueling Aid Regimes: A Conjoint Survey Experiment on Elites’ Development Finance Preferences in 141 Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Robert A. Blair, Samantha Custer, Philip Roessler


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

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

Tanya Sethi, Mihir Prakash


Blog Posts


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

Jonathan A. Solis

Senior Research Analyst

Policy Analysis

Kelsey Marshall

Program Manager

Partnerships & Communications

Sariah Harmer

Communications Associate

Alex Wooley

Director of Partnerships and Communications