Being curious and asking different questions is core to helping Umbo measure it’s impact!

As a social enterprise, Umbo sits within the social purpose ecosystem trying to solve a difficult and complex problem around access to allied health care services for people in regional and rural Australia. We collaborate and work with partner organisations to deliver services, however most importantly, we work with our families and our therapists to meet their needs. 

But how do we know if we are actually meeting those needs and having an impact? 

During this current pandemic lockdown, I was watching the ever-popular TV show Ted Lasso. Now, to be honest, I didn’t really expect to hear a quote in a show about football that would resonate with me! However, when spoken, Walt Whitman’s quote of “be curious, not judgemental” reminded me that when doing the type of work we do at Umbo, which has a social purpose, we need to continuously ask different questions, see things from different perspectives and importantly, check our assumptions. 

At Umbo we often ask ourselves the same few questions

  1. How do we know if we are doing the best for the people with whom we are working?
  2. What do we know about our impact? 
  3. What are we doing well or not so well?

To help us answer these questions, we have recently worked on and developed our Social Impact Measurement Framework. Using the collective power of some incredible brains working on their MBA in Social Impact through the Centre for Social Impact and Australian Graduate School of Management, we have determined a new Theory of Change and a framework for measuring our impact. The Theory of Change provides a hypotheses on how we will achieve our work (including checking in on those assumptions) and the Social Impact Measurement Framework provides a guide for Umbo to not only articulate our impact, but how we can measure achieving this.  

So, since we have this measurement framework – what do we know?? 

Since Umbo started, we have been tracking indicators to help us measure our impact in the long term. Families tell us that key frustrations for them are around accessing timely therapy (not sitting on endless waitlists), good continuity of care and accessibility. 

Right now, 83% of our clients are located in a regional or rural area in Australia. This means that we are providing therapy to exactly the people we are trying to support. 

On average, we have saved each client on average 14 hours of travel time. Why measure travel time you might ask? Well, firstly imagine having to travel 2 hours each way to a therapy appointment. This might mean packing all kids in the car, taking time off work or away from your property and then taking on the trip for a 1-hour appointment. The stress and anxiety of doing this repeatedly is hard to imagine. 

Beyond the positive benefits of not having to travel long distances to an appointment, lets think about it in more quantifiable terms. For each hour of therapy under the NDIS, a client will pay an allocated amount. However, depending on where they live and the classification in relation to remoteness (the Modified Monash Model  -MMM) , they will also have travel costs taken from their package. 

Since inception, Umbo has saved clients $225,000 in travel costs. That means an extra $225k collectively in people’s NDIS packages that can be used directly on therapy, not on therapist travel.  

By saving travel time and associated costs we (on average) double the amount of therapy a client can get from their fixed amount of NDIS funding. Double – wow! This means that clients who access online therapy in regional and rural locations not only save the stress and anxiety of travel, but can access two times the amount of service provision in their package.   

Umbo will continue to share our work and our impact in the hope that families take up online therapy so that we can not only provide quality therapy, but decrease the added stress caused by travel, wait lists and funding restrictions. 

So – going back to the idea of ‘being curious, not judgemental’ and articulating and measuring our impact moving forward:

We will commit to seeking knowledge about our clients needs and ensuring the therapy we deliver meets those needs identified. 

We will commit to innovating for impact.

We will commit to seeing things from different perspectives

We will commit to continuing to strive to reach those who lack accessibility. 

And importantly – we will commit to being curious, to asking questions and always seeking knowledge to increase and further our impact. 

Want to know more about our Theory of Change or Social Impact Measurement Framework?
Reach out to Francesca at