Accounting on Mission: Williamson Uses Business Accounting Degree to Advance Nonprofit Missions
Tammara Williamson spends her days like many other certified public accountants. But as a partner at CapinCrouse, Williamson’s work is about maximizing impact, not profits. Her diverse client base includes churches, missions organizations, higher education institutions, radio stations, rescue missions, and summer camps. Her work impacts all sorts of ministries that share one thing in common — they exist to further God’s kingdom.
While the role she plays is less boots-on-the-ground and more behind-the-scenes, Williamson is able to leave work every day knowing that the audits she signed off on are helping faith-based organizations accomplish their God-given missions.
Audits at Age Ten
Before Tammara ever realized it, she and her siblings were being prepared for accounting degree programs.
True to the Dutch stereotype, the Jongkinds taught their six children about the value of money and the importance of frugality from the time they could understand it. At age ten, Williamson had a newspaper route from which she earned her first income. Her parents trained her to budget her earnings: first giving to the church, saving second, and then spending. “Our parents were not accountants, but in a way, they were,” Williamson laughs. “My dad has essentially been doing mini audits on me since I was ten years old.”
But in all reality, it was that early exposure to wise financial practice (combined with an accounting class in high school which came quite naturally to her) that influenced Williamson to declare a business accounting degree at Grace College.
Intersecting Faith and Accounting Degree Programs
Williamson’s experience at Grace was crucial. The program casted a vision of using a business accounting degree to serve Christ.
“There are many Christian schools by name but not by action,” said Williamson. “That was not the case at Grace. Even though Grace is counter-cultural in many ways, I appreciate that they stand for something.”
In the classrooms, it meant exploring what it looks like to live out your faith in your field.
“Professor Stichter did a great job of combining the technical knowledge of an accounting major with the practical ways we could walk out our Christian faith in the workplace,” said Williamson.
Stichter’s in-class devotions would often lead students to think about the function they could play on a team and the value they could add to their company. Whether they were to end up at a CPA firm or work at a nonprofit organization, they could all be excellent accountants.
And Williamson’s graduating class truly was excellent.
The 2010 class of accountants was recognized for being one of the top ten schools in the nation for first-time CPA pass rates. Williamson was among those who passed all four sections of the exam on her first attempt, finishing her exam by April of 2011. But by that time, Williamson was already approaching the year mark in her first job.
Using a Business Accounting Degree on Mission
Before Williamson graduated from Grace in May of 2010, CapinCrouse, the company her older sister worked for, recruited her. The firm, which has offices from coast to coast, told her that she could select any location of her choosing. If she was anything like her sister, they wanted her on their team.
Williamson started at the Colorado Springs office as an Audit Staff.
“The biggest thing that drew me to Capin is that while it’s a national firm with a lot of resources and a lot of high-quality individuals who know their stuff, it’s very specialized in that we only help nonprofit organizations, and 98% of them are faith-based,” Williamson said.
And that is also what keeps Williamson there. Eleven years later, she’s a partner of the firm and as passionate as ever about the chance to come alongside mission-oriented organizations.
“A lot of times when it comes to ministries, the support teams, including the accounting function, are not on the front lines and can be easily overlooked, but they are just as meaningful to fulfilling the organization’s mission,” said Williamson. “So being able to provide support and guidance makes the job even more meaningful. That is one of the reasons that I love doing what I’m doing.”
Another reason is Williamson’s like-minded co-workers.
“I love getting to work with people of similar mindsets. We care about what our clients are doing and the impact that they are having. We share those same priorities, so the relationships we share are to a higher degree. One of the CFOs of an organization I’ve worked with for many years even came to my wedding,” she said.
A number of other Grace graduates have seen the kingdom work being done at CapinCrouse and have chosen to work there as well. But Williamson is quick to say there is no “right way” to use a business accounting degree for Christ. Whether it be through intentional excellence working at a public accounting firm, a business, or a ministry organization, all accountants can approach their job in missional ways.
“You may not be a frontline worker, but that does not mean that the value you are adding and the benefit you are bringing to a ministry or a company is any less,” says Williamson. “There are always opportunities to use the skill sets and gifts that God has given you in a very direct way to further His Kingdom.”
You could be among the next generation of accountants who are using a business accounting degree to advance meaningful missions. Apply today.