Five Questions With: Gina McDonald

As a certified public accountant and lead consultant at FMA, Gina McDonald works with a variety of nonprofit organizations to help them build their internal fiscal capacity and ensure they remain compliant with the ever-changing rules and regulations for nonprofit accounting. She develops and conducts trainings for financial reporting, internal controls, budget development, governance and the Form 990.

Prior to joining FMA, McDonald spent 17 years in public accounting, including 10 years in nonprofit and governmental accounting and financial reporting as an audit senior manager. She also serves as board treasurer for the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities.

PBN: For those of our readers who are unfamiliar with your organization, what is the role of FMA when it comes to helping nonprofits tackling fiscal challenges?

MCDONALD: FMA exists to help build a community of individuals with the confidence and skills to lead organizations that change the world. With a focus on strengthening fiscal infrastructure, our role takes many forms, including assessing infrastructure needs and working to implement solutions that increase capacity, create efficiencies and facilitate financial reporting.

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FMA also works within nonprofit organizations to fill the role of internal finance staff on either a temporary or permanent basis in a variety of capacities from bookkeeper to [chief financial officer]. In addition, we regularly work with foundations and other partners to bring training and other educational programs to a larger nonprofit audience.

PBN What does your role with FMA as a lead consultant entail?

MCDONALD: As lead consultant based here in Providence, it’s my privilege to focus on our local nonprofit community, identifying both specific organizations to work with and also identifying trends in the sector in order to be part of a greater movement for change. I work personally with nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts with my local team.

PBN: In how many cities is FMA currently active and when did the organization launch in Providence?

MCDONALD: Besides our Providence office, FMA also has offices in New York City, Chicago, Oakland, [Calif.], and Los Angeles. We have worked in Rhode Island for years, but our Providence office opened in October 2018 and is quickly becoming a busy place!

PBN: What has the rollout been like in Providence?

MCDONALD: We have hit the ground running in Providence! We had already begun working with more than a dozen clients here over the years, but through a partnership with Rhode Island Foundation, we’ve been able to engage an even larger network of front-line nonprofit organizations who are working to improve day-to-day life for Rhode Islanders!

PBN: What types of nonprofits, and various fiscal challenges, do you encourage to seek help from FMA?

MCDONALD: I encourage any nonprofits with questions around fiscal infrastructure or financial accounting to reach out. Having a conversation is quick and easy, and also helps all of us to build a nonprofit community with a wide variety of resources and connections.  Sometimes knowing there is someone to call and ask a question relieves a great deal of pressure. Even if we aren’t able to help you directly, we have a deep repository of free tools at our disposal that we eagerly share with all organizations.

Emily Gowdey-Backus is a PBN contributing writer.