Link2Lead: Demographic Tools for Local Corps Leaders
Nothing beats getting out of our doors and building relationships with our neighbors face-to-face. To make our neighborhoods better, we need to work with partners from all walks of life on a first-name basis. Nevertheless, learning the demographic characteristics of the areas in which we serve can also help us to understand our communities better.
Percept is a demographic research company that culls data from numerous sources (including the U.S. Census) and provides customized reports of local data, various proprietary maps, and interactive demographic research tools for churches and ministries.
The Salvation Army—USA East subscribes to services from Percept that help local and regional Army units “do the most good” in their areas. This post introduces Link2Lead. Once you know the basics of this service, feel free to explore the site for more demographic and ministry tools. But, never forget that we, as Salvationists, are personally called to be present in our communities as “salt and light” (Matthew 5:13–16).
Link2Lead is a Percept service that any corps officer or local leader can use to access general demographic information and learn more about their communities. The Army’s subscription allows up to twenty local leaders from every corps to have a user account on the service and to run unlimited FirstView reports. These reports, as well as interactive tools like area quizzes and maps, are available directly to users. If specific ministry, program, or funding needs require a more detailed report, the corps officer can request one from the command’s Program Secretary.
Basic Directions (Click here for Visual Sequence.)
Registering for an account and then running a report takes just minutes.
First, register for your free account:
- Visit the Link2Lead.com website: http://www.link2lead.com/GettingStarted/Home.aspx.
- Click the “Register” link on the left of the top banner menu.
- Select your Denomination (Salvation Army); select your Regional Body (Eastern Territory).
- Select your City (where your building is located); select your Church (Each Army unit in the area appears on a drop-down list. Be sure to choose the one that best describes your unit.).
- Complete the personal information form (The most important information here is the correct spelling of your name and email address.). If everything goes smoothly, you should receive a confirmation message after clicking the red “Register” button. You will also receive an email message within minutes.
- Look for the email message that was automatically sent to you (It may be in your junk folder!). You are now ready to logon and use Link2Lead!
Now, access your FirstView report:
- Visit the Link2Lead.com website: http://www.link2lead.com/GettingStarted/Home.aspx (The links provided in your confirmation email do not lead you there, so do not bother clicking them.).
- Click the “Sign In” link at the top left corner of the page.
- Enter the login credentials from the confirmation email and press “Go” (“Account Number” – typically six digits used to identify your unit. “Password” – typically the first portion of your email address).
- Click on the “My Community” button near the top of the page (Your first and last name should appear in the top left corner in place of “Sign In.”).
- Option One (Basic): Click the “FirstView Report” button on the left to access an area demographic report with preset boundaries. Then, click the graphic “Download” button. Your report will load in a PDF viewer.
Option Two (Advanced): Click the “FirstView Maker” button on the left to create an area demographic report with customized boundaries. Click the “Get Started” button. Choose one of three methods for determining your area boundaries. Follow the prompts from screen-to-screen. Before clicking the “Submit Order” button, you may edit the prefilled fields as needed. Percept will email you links to the report and other tools. Each time you access the link, it will generate with updated data based on your inquiry.
First View Report – Description
A FirstView report provides six pages of general information for understanding basic aggregate traits of people in your ministry area. This report puts broad information about your community at your fingertips. It can illuminate characteristics of the population, guide your approach to mission, and help you to strategize ministries.
In Link2Lead, a 5-mile radius from the corps building address is automatically preset as the inquiry area. You can customize the geographic area by using the “FirstView Maker [New]” feature. The area you select may be determined by 1) a radius from a specific address or intersection, 2) a zip code or collection of zip codes, 3) a custom-made polygon that you draw over a map around an address, or 3) all zip codes in any US county automatically loaded (New Feature).
Detailed Ministry Area Profile – Description
A Detailed Ministry Area Profile is the largest and most detailed report Percept offers. It is typically requested when specific circumstances call for it. The report can be customized with up to six relevant info-maps, including Average Household Income, Median Age, Minors as a Percentage of the Population, Number claiming “not involved with faith,” and Number claiming “finding a good church” as concern.
Because of the limited number of licenses in the Army’s subscription to this service (Vista Online), these reports are only available through your command’s Program Secretary. You are encouraged to request these reports especially when a specific program evaluation body (e.g., MAC) or funding source requires detailed documentation of warrant.
Your command’s Program Secretary acts as a clearing house for these reports and will help you to navigate the service, customize and produce desired reports. When you request a report, the Program Secretary will receive it via email and forward the link to you. The email will also have links to additional tools.
Percept’s Up-to-Date Data – An Additional Note
Percept reports are not static and will update every time you access the link. You do not need to go through the submission process every time you want to examine the most current data from your area. Just keep the link that Percept sends and use it whenever you want the most up-to-date answers to the inquiry. It is not advisable to print the report. If you make a such static copy of the report, it will represent a snapshot of the area’s demographics at the time of printing. For more detail on these Percept services, visit http://saconnects.org/percept-training-video/.
Note: If the service doesn’t work in one browser (e.g., Chrome or Firefox), try another (e.g., Microsoft Edge).