TOOL 10 Review – The 5/15 Monthly Report to the Board

By John Pearson

Eliminate Hallway Whining!

In the hallways of boardrooms, perhaps the most constant whine is, “We don’t hear from our CEO in between board meetings. How can I steward this ministry, if I’m not in the loop?”

True or False?

  • Informative reports to the board from our CEO are received regularly.

  • As a board member, I’m sometimes the last to hear both good and bad news.

  • I receive way too many emails from our CEO—and I can’t discern what’s really important and what’s really just an FYI.

  • I faithfully respond to every email or phone call from our CEO within 24 hours.

  • Our Board Policies Manual establishes the type and frequency of reports from our CEO.


Use this tool to keep the board informed and inspired between meetings. Once formatted, it takes just 15 minutes to write and 5 minutes to read.

Tool #10 in the new resource, ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance, is one of three tools in Part 3, “Reporting to the Board,” in this jam-packed 272-page resource. While all 22 tools will help most boards, if I had to pick the most highly-appreciated tool, it would be The 5/15 Monthly Report to the Board.

Once formatted by a key staff member, the 5/15 Report can be reviewed and enriched by the CEO in about 15 minutes. Emailed monthly on the same date (perhaps the 15th), board members will be kept in the loop on good news, bad news, and routine news. The tool can be customized for your unique needs, but most 5/15 Reports will likely include:

  • Next board meeting date

  • Monthly Dashboard Report and progress on the CEO’s three to five SMART goals (see Tool #11)

  • Committee highlights (bullet points only—and only if there is new information)

  • Board Nominating Committee “Pipeline Report” (see Tools #1, 2, and 3)

  • Monthly Financial Report Summary

  • Major Program Notes (bullet points)

Many CEOs also include a brief ministry story, key events on the organization’s calendar, the CEO’s travel schedule, prayer requests, and the board-approved Schedule of Board Meetings (with key agenda topics) for the next 12 to 24 months. You’ll find that the 5/15 Report will be an exceptional communication tool.

Order the tools book from Amazon by clicking on this title: ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance: Time-Saving Solutions for Your Board, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. The book gives you full access to all 22 tools and templates—formatted as Word documents so you can customize the tools for your board’s unique uses.

BOARD DISCUSSION (after receiving the first draft of The CEO’s 5/15 Monthly Report to the board): What was helpful and informative? What was unnecessary? What prompted you to pray? What encouraged or inspired you? What would you add or edit? Will you commit to responding within 24 hours monthly—with a quick email (“Got it!” or “Praying for you!”)?

MORE RESOURCES: When I began serving as CEO of Christian Management Association (now CLA), Pat Clements was the board chair and introduced me to the 5/15 report. I used this simple communication tool monthly for 11 years! (Thanks, Pat!) Read Clements’ guest blog on Lesson 6, “Eliminate Hallway Whining,” in Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom: 40 Insights for Better Board Meetings, by Dan Busby and John Pearson.


This article was originally posted on the “Governance of Christ-Centered Organizations” blog, hosted by ECFA.
John Pearson, a board governance consultant and author, was ECFA’s governance blogger from 2011 to 2020.
© 2021, ECFA and John Pearson. All rights reserved.


This text is provided with the understanding that ECFA is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from an accountant, lawyer, or other professional.