Who is The Royal Ontario Museum?

Founded in 1914, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) showcases art, culture and nature from around the world and across the ages. Among the top 10 cultural institutions in North America, Canada’s largest and most comprehensive museum is home to a world-class collection of 13 million artworks, cultural objects and natural history specimens, featured in 40 gallery and exhibition spaces.

The ROM’s mission is to inspire wonder and promote learning by sharing the stories of the unique collections that the ROM cares for on behalf of the people of Ontario; to be a champion for the natural and cultural worlds; to serve as a forum for our diverse communities; and to create knowledge that contributes to a better future.

Questions we were asked to look into

The ROM offers a multi-tier membership program for its members and they wanted to get better insights into the data. The operations team needed to understand the factors that contributed to the profitability of the different tiers. It would allow them to better strategize their marketing efforts in order to increase the rate of renewals and new memberships.

High level goals

  • Understand historical membership/renewal trends and determine potential causal factors
  • Analyze member demographics to potentially support targeted advertising campaigns
  • Understand donor giving history and LTV of donors

Examples of Insights

  • What channels are used for renewal?
  • How long does it take on average for a person to renew membership?
  • What statistically significant factors affect membership renewal rates? E.g. number of visits, special exhibits, special offers, phone/email communications.
  • How likely are members to move between different membership tiers?
  • How much is it worth doing a promotion? CAC?
  • Do renewal rates increase past a certain number of visits?
  • What are the demographics of the areas where our members are most likely to come from?
  • What are areas with similar demographics we should target to attract new members?

What did the data look like?

The ROM provided an extensive set of data covering the following:

  • Membership – going back 10 years
  • Exhibits – going back 10 years
  • Special offers – going back 10 years
  • Pricing – going back 10 years
  • Attendance – going back 8 years from Nov 2017

Some of interesting facts from the data:

  • The ROM has over 35,000 member households for approximately 116,000 members.
  • The earliest ROM Membership join date in our database is 1936. They still have the index card files for Life memberships from before membership was moved into a database!

What types of tools and analysis did we use?

Multiple tools were used including Tableau, R, Python / Jupyter Notebooks, and Excel.

Analysis and Key Findings

DataThon participants dove straight into the datasets and generated a variety of charts and graphs to summarize the different patterns and trends in their data. Additionally, they ran various different data models and correlated this with different behavioral patterns of the members to produce the following insights:

  • In 2017, Renewals contributed 54% of the total membership revenue making it the most profitable source of revenue
  • Family/Dual were the most popularly renewed membership package
  • Telemarketing has been the most successful channel for Renewals contributing over 30% conversions for the past 2 years whereas Front-of-house has been effective for new members



  • The Number of Visits is statistically significant for Renewals Majority of the members renew memberships within the last month before or 2 months after the expiration

  • Smaller families from richer and multilingual regions seemed to be more inclined to purchase and renew memberships
  • Majority of the members are from Central and Downtown Toronto


  1. Members were more likely to upgrade to a 2 year membership as opposed to move between different tiers. This form of renewal was also the most popular in 2017.
  2. Given almost 50% of the members renew their membership between the last month before expiration and or the 2 months after, ROM was advised to reach out to these members with reminders to ensure conversion as telemarketing has proved to be an effective medium for renewals.
  3. There was a strong correlations between Number of visits and member renewals as renewal rates seemed to increase past a certain number of visits.
  4. With respect to new members, Promotional and “front-of-house” campaigns were identified to be much more effective. For instance, a promotional campaign from January 2015 – March 2015 recorded the highest number of members enrolled for that time period as compared to the rest of the year.

Case Study Questions?

Get in touch with Stephen Boyd at stephen.boyd@dataforgood.ca

Interested in Working with us?

Get in touch with us at contact@dataforgood.ca