Third Sector Awards: Best Charity Film – WaterAid for 'The Girl Who Built a Rocket'

Awarded to a charity and/or agency that has produced the most inspiring awareness raising or fundraising film of the year.

Best Charity Film – WaterAid for 'The Girl Who Built a Rocket'

What is the film’s aim?

Despite living on the fourth biggest island in the world, almost half of Madagascans have no clean water. WaterAid wanted to tell the story of the yet-to-be-realised potential of the community in Madagascar in a way that would resonate with the UK public. This was no easy task with the Covid-19 pandemic causing the public to look increasingly inward.

What was the approach?

With three Mars missions landing in early 2021, WaterAid identified a cultural moment with universal meaning. Billions are being spent to find water on Mars, but nobody is thirsty there. The charity juxtaposed this with the story of a community in Madagascar, and the difference clean water could make.

The pandemic made it impossible to film overseas, but WaterAid needed to show work happening in Madagascar. The solution was animation: creative agency Don't Panic worked with Madagascar programme managers to ensure authenticity.

The creative uses the shared dreams of children everywhere to establish a universal platform of understanding, as a young girl builds a rocket to find water on Mars. Around this, the animation shows WaterAid’s role in supporting communities to take control.

A voiceover by Sir Trevor McDonald and a specially composed version of David Bowie's Life on Mars were used to grab attention.

What has it achieved?

The launch of the film generated 162 pieces of coverage, with a reach of 15.6 million. The campaign led to an 18 per cent increase in cash and regular donations while it was live, and had a positive effect on other metrics – including an 11 per cent rise in the belief that WaterAid has a positive impact.

What did the judges say?

“Attention-grabbing, beautiful – a really fresh and cut-through concept well executed, that made a familiar story seem new and relatable to the audience.”


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