Closing Time

From Spreadsheets to Success: Why Insightly is the Best CRM for Nonprofit Business UK Screen Alliance

What’s the point of having a CRM for nonprofits if you’re not directly serving clients or customers?

Nonprofit companies, especially in dynamic industries like film and television, face unique challenges—they must navigate industry shifts, uphold value for their members or communities, and ensure smooth operations without increasing costs.

And having a powerful CRM like Insightly on your team can make all the difference.

In this customer spotlight edition of Closing Time, Neil Hatton, CEO of UK Screen Alliance, shares how Insightly was key to maintaining member relationships during the pandemic, the Hollywood actors’ strike, and beyond.

Neil shares how Insightly CRM, paired with integrations via Insightly AppConnect, has automated administrative tasks and member communication, allowing them to focus on what’s at the core of their business—advocacy for their membership base.

Watch the video:
Key Moments:
The Transition from Spreadsheets to CRM

Running a nonprofit in the visual effects and animation sector is no small feat. UK Screen Alliance, a membership organization for the UK’s film, television, visual effects, animation, and post-production sectors, has faced its fair share of challenges, especially during the fluctuating business climates of the pandemic and subsequent industry strikes.

Neil states, “Obviously, the pandemic years were very strange for us. We had a lot of companies struggling to continue working. And then when the pandemic finished, we had a huge boom where there was so much work that we were struggling to find all of the skilled people we needed to cover the work.”

However, through the strategic use of Insightly CRM, UK Screen Alliance not only survived but thrived.

Having their entire business cloud-based allowed for a seamless transition to remote work, a model they continue to utilize today.

Post-pandemic, Neil leveraged automation for routine tasks like member communication, ensuring UK Screen Alliance could keep pace with the surge in demand.

Prior to Insightly, UK Screen Alliance’s member management was a mess of inefficient Excel spreadsheets. Incomplete or outdated contact records, duplicate entries, and conflicting information were the norm.

As you can imagine, the switch to Insightly was a game-changer for their remote workforce. It offered a centralized platform to streamline member data, automate key processes, and significantly reduce administrative burdens.

Neil emphasizes how this shift was crucial, particularly as the organization needed to maintain lean operations without increasing membership fees during those uncertain and challenging times.

Features and Benefits of Insightly's Enterprise License

Every business, even within similar industries, faces unique challenges and has distinct growth goals. At Insightly, we recognize this. That’s why we offer three plan levels, ensuring each customer has the resources and functionalities they need to thrive.

As an enterprise customer, UK Screen Alliance has access to an extensive range of customization options, automation capabilities, and support. 

Customization Creates Efficiency:  The ability to create custom objects and fields allows UK Screen Alliance to tailor Insightly CRM to their specific industry and operations. This means they can store unique data, like member subscription details and historical interactions, in a structured format that enhances reporting and analysis.

Automation Streamlines Operations: Through Insightly AppConnect, UK Screen Alliance automated processes like creating and sending quotes, pro forma invoices, and actual invoices. This automation extends to integrating with other applications like QuickBooks Online, streamlining their financial operations and reducing manual workload for their team.

Uninterrupted Service, Unwavering Support: Organizations operating on an enterprise scale often cannot afford downtime or prolonged disruptions. The enterprise license includes enhanced support, ensuring that any issues can be addressed promptly. This level of support is critical for maintaining continuous operations and ensuring that member services are not interrupted. Neil emphasized the importance of being able to reach out via chat and receive quick resolutions to any problems, minimizing downtime and maintaining operational efficiency.

Leveraging CRM + AppConnect for Seamless Integration

As mentioned previously, Insightly AppConnect is a powerful integration tool within the Insightly CRM ecosystem that allows users to connect and automate workflows between Insightly and other applications. This feature is particularly beneficial for organizations looking to streamline their operations and enhance efficiency by reducing manual data entry and ensuring that their systems communicate seamlessly with each other.

For UK Screen Alliance, Insightly serves as the central hub of information—the single source of truth for all member-related data. AppConnect enhances this capability by integrating Insightly with other software tools used by the organization, such as QuickBooks Online, for accounting.

The Insightly x QuickBooks integration is particularly valuable at the start of each month, a typically busy period for billing.

Neil shared an anecdote illustrating the efficiency brought by AppConnect:  While he was vacationing in the Caribbean, the system automatically handled the invoicing process, sending out all member invoices without any need for his direct involvement. This not only ensures reliability and timeliness in billing but also allows senior staff like Neil to focus on strategic tasks (or well-deserved vacationing) rather than administrative details.

Beyond QuickBooks, AppConnect facilitates the integration of various other applications that enhance member communication and management. (See the image above or watch this webinar for a complete look into all of UK Screen Alliance’s integrations.)

For instance, Neil mentioned the use of Formstack, a form-building tool, which integrates with Insightly to manage data collection and automate tasks. This integration capability is crucial for maintaining accurate and up-to-date member records and for executing marketing and communication strategies effectively.

The Benefits of a Customizable CRM

Insightly’s ability to customize is not just a feature but a fundamental component that allows businesses to adapt the CRM to their unique processes, workflows, and data management requirements. This adaptability is crucial for organizations that operate in specialized sectors like the UK Screen Alliance, which deals with the film, television, and production industries.

Custom Fields and Objects: One of the core customization features that Neil highlighted is the ability to create custom fields and objects within Insightly. This functionality allows organizations to design and structure their CRM system around the specific data they need to capture and manage. For UK Screen Alliance, custom fields and objects enable them to store detailed information about their members, such as subscription details, service preferences, and interaction histories. This level of detail is crucial for providing personalized services and for making informed decisions about how to best serve their members.

Tailored Data Structure: The flexibility to customize the structure of the data within Insightly is particularly beneficial. Organizations can set up their databases in a way that reflects their operational and analytical needs. For example, UK Screen Alliance can structure their data to track member engagement and retention metrics, which are vital for assessing the effectiveness of their member services and for planning future engagement strategies. This tailored data structure helps in generating meaningful insights that are specific to the organization’s goals.

Enhanced Reporting and Analytics: Customization in Insightly extends to reporting and analytics, allowing organizations to create custom reports that focus on the metrics most relevant to them. Neil mentioned the importance of being able to report on and analyze member behavior. Custom reports enable UK Screen Alliance to monitor trends, track membership growth, and understand member needs more deeply. These insights are crucial for strategic planning and for ensuring that the organization remains aligned with its members’ expectations and industry dynamics.


Finally, the ability to customize a CRM system like Insightly provides a competitive advantage. By tailoring the system to fit their exact needs, UK Screen Alliance can operate more efficiently than they might with a one-size-fits-all CRM solution.

This efficiency can translate into faster response times, more personalized member services, and the ability to quickly adapt to changes in the industry or in member preferences.


Today we’ve got the CEO of a nonprofit advocacy institution with us.
And I really think this story is fantastic because it demonstrates that no matter
what industry you’re in, Insightly can be easily customized
to fit the needs of your business and help you run more efficiently.
That’s the topic for today’s Closing Time.
Thanks so much for tuning in to Closing time the show for Go to Market Leaders.
I’m Melinda Prescher Insightly’s director of product and customer marketing.
And today I have the pleasure of hosting another special
customer spotlight edition of Closing Time.
Whether you’re a weekly Closing Time listener, an Insightly customer,
or both, you’ll find useful takeaways on how to use Insightly CRM.
So now, without further ado, please welcome Neil Hatton of UK Screen Alliance.
Hi Neil. It’s great to have you here.
Hi Melinda, good to speak to you again from here in
not very sunny London at the moment.
Good to catch up.
I think it’s a couple of years since we last spoke.
We actually did a webinar together a while ago to your point,
and I’m so excited to have you back here and chat with you again
and learn how things are progressing for you and your team.
But first off,
let’s have you talk a little bit about UK. Screen Alliance and what you all do.
Well, we are a membership organization for companies working in the film
and television industry in the UK, and we specialize
particularly in companies
that provide visual effects and animation and post-production services.
So it’s a pretty exciting sector
and we’ve had a very interesting ride over the last five years.
Obviously, the pandemic years were very strange for us.
We had a lot of companies were struggling
to continue working, so that was interesting.
And then when the pandemic finished, we had a huge boom
where there was so much work that we were struggling to find
all of the skilled people we needed to cover the work.
And then in 23, it all stopped again.
And particularly we were quite heavily affected by the Hollywood actors strike,
which stopped all of the business happening.
It’s all coming back now and it’s starting to get going again.
But, you know, as a membership organization that provides advocacy
for its members, talking to government people like that,
it’s really important that we have the contact details
with our members so we can communicate with them effectively.
And also, of course, when they’re struggling,
we can’t put up our membership prices.
So we have to run very lean, very efficient.
And so that is why we have a very
good CRM system right at the heart of our business.
That’s great.
I’d love to
have you tell the audience first about how you got started with Insightly.
Well, when I started in this job,
I found that our contact database was actually based on Excel.
Lots of spreadsheets, lots of contact records
that were out of date or incomplete or incompatible duplicates,
different people having trouble updating spreadsheets.
So we had conflicting information and it was just not efficient at all.
So having a CRM system right at the heart of the business
is really important to us and we chose Insightly
having looked at a couple of other systems and I think we made the right choice
because we’re still here, we’re still using Insightly
and we’re using more and more features every single day.
And once we got to see AppConnect, that was a real game changer
because that allowed us to be much more efficient
in many of our processes because we’ve automated so much,
it allows us to run really lean and efficient
and make sure that we can serve our members to the best
possible degree because we’re not wasting time on administration.
We’re getting on with the relationship with our members and relationship
with legislators and government
and doing all the policy work that is at the core of our business.
So, Neil, because your organization is a nonprofit,
I know that you’re always looking for ways to optimize, like you said, on cost
so that you’re delivering on your promise of value for your membership base.
And I know you’ve got an enterprise license,
which is Insightly’s most robust plan.
I’d love to have you tell the audience more about
why the Enterprise feature set is so important to you,
why it delivers value for you, and how it helps
you deliver great experiences to your membership.
Well, we actually use Insightly for all of our quotes and proforma invoices
and providing invoices to our members, which we’ve automated through AppConnect.
So we’ve used the entire suite to create
all of our membership categories within Insightly.
We’ve used lots of custom objects to create tables
in which we can hold information such as the subscription details
and the history of those subscription details.
So we’ve used a very wide variety of the Insightly features.
And also, of course we get the in-house support
because we don’t want to have much downtime.
So if we’ve got a problem, we can get straight on to the chat
to Insightly and get an answer really quickly.
Neil, you’ve mentioned AppConnect
a couple of times and so I’d love to have you do a deeper dive on it.
Can you please tell us more about all of the applications
that you’ve integrated with Insightly using AppConnect?
Well we use Insightly as the central application
that is our main source of truth, the only source of truth,
because everything else sort of hangs off that.
So the kind of applications that we’ve integrated are primarily
the main one is QuickBooks Online that has been integrated into the system
so in fact we initiate a lot of our invoicing from Insightly
using AppConnect, which then creates the records in our accounting system.
So that’s a really important thing.
Why it’s really useful for me is it saves me an awful lot of time
on the first of the month,
first working day of the month when we send out our invoices.
This year, I remember in January, on
I think the first working day of January was January the fourth in the UK.
So that’s the day we were scheduled to send out our invoices.
Now actually January in the UK is pretty dull dark and rainy
and so I prefer to get away and have a bit of a rest and recuperation.
So I was actually I was actually in the Caribbean at the time.
Woke up in the morning. There’s my phone.
All I can see in my phone is a list of the invoices
that AppConnect has created and sent
using applications like Formstack, which we use as well
that are sent PDF copies of our invoices to our members,
and that’s without me doing anything at all.
So I was very relieved
to just see all of those invoices there and then I could go back to my sun bed.
Neil, that sounds wonderful.
And now you’re really making me want to be on a beach in the Caribbean right now.
What do you think in terms of using AppConnect and Insightly in general?
How have these applications made an impact on your business?
Well, it gives us an overview.
We use the dashboards quite a lot to see our progress
on member retention and member attraction to our organization
and make sure that we’re getting the growth that we expect.
We’ve also, as I said, we’re much more efficient.
So we’ve got my time is given back to doing what I should be doing in
leading the organization rather than doing administrative tasks.
But it also we use it to log the participation of our members
on Zoom calls.
We get them to register through Zoom calls and that attaches
to their contact record inside Insightly.
So we know who’s
been to all the different meetings and who are our most engaged members.
So it really helps us to make sure we target
those members who are perhaps not engaging as often.
I make sure that we ensure that they get the best possible member experience.
So it’s had a huge impact on the way we run the company.
Neil It’s been so great to have you back on.
In closing, I’d love to have you share any final thoughts about,
you know, what makes Insightly great, for anyone considering Insightly, what
should they know about?
I think one of the features that we’ve really made
great use of is customizing Insightly to our needs.
No matter what kind of business you’re in, you’re going to have different needs.
And Insightly is extremely flexible at creating
custom fields, custom objects, and you can work out,
you know, exactly
the structure of the data, which is most important to you in your business,
and then create those objects.
So you’re collecting all the relevant data and reporting on that data as well.
So you’re getting the insights into your customers behavior,
and in our case, our members behavior and I think that’s really important.
Being able to make informed business decisions and move the business forward.
Thank you so much.. It was so great to see you again.
It’s my pleasure.
You know, hopefully we can do it again in a couple of years
and we’ll have even more progress. Absolutely.
And we’ll still be using Insightly,. I’m sure.
I love it.
And thanks so much to all of you for tuning in.
Remember to like this video.
Subscribe to the channel
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We’ll see you next time on Closing Time.

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