The first Charity Bowl was organised in 1986 by the then governing body of gridiron in Queensland, the Queensland Gridiron Football League (QGFL). The game was played on Saturday, August 23rd, 1986 at Seagulls Rugby League on the Gold Coast between the reigning Sunbowl Champion Brisbane Bulldogs and the Pine Grove Steelers. The ceremonial kick off for the game was carried out by Rugby League great Ken Irvine. That first match was won by the Bulldogs in front of a very enthusiastic crowd.
The Charity Bowl was to be played each year prior to the start of the league's regular season between the reining Sunbowl and Charity Bowl champions but in the event that the same team held both titles the league would choose a team to challenge for the Charity Bowl title. The 1986 game was also the start of the use of full equipment in the sport in Queensland under match conditions. In 1986 and 1987 only one game was staged at the venue on that day but for 1988 a triple header was organised for Charity Bowl day and all three games would count as part of the regular season. Those games were hosted by Wynnum-Manly Seagulls Rugby League Club at Kougari Oval, Wynnum.