Social workers have accused Donald Tsang Yam-kuen of being politically selective in his choice of 14 charities to which he donated $23.2 million in surplus election campaign funds last month.
They also said many of the charities chosen by the chief executive were so rich and well-established, they did not need the money.
Society for Community Organisation director Ho Hei-wah said Mr Tsang had only chosen to donate to 'himself or his friends'.
He pointed out that no minority group, anti-poverty society or green group had received money.
Rose Wu Lo-sai, of the Hong Kong Christian Institute, said many of the groups selected had very close relationships with Mr Tsang.
The biggest donation - $10.2 million - went to the Community Chest.
Of the others, a South China Morning Post search found Mr Tsang or his wife, Selina Tsang Pou Siu-mei, were patrons of six.
Mr Tsang is the patron of the Scout Association of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Cancer Fund.
He is also expected to replace his predecessor, Tung Chee-hwa, as Boys and Girls Association patron.
Mrs Tsang is the patron of the Hong Kong Girl Guides Association, St James' Settlement, and the Hong Chi Association.
Friends of the chief executive or people connected to him were found to be heads of other groups that received donations.
Former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang is patron of the Children's Cancer Foundation, Catholic leader Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-kiun heads Caritas Hong Kong, and the Hong Kong Buddhist Association is headed by Election Committee member Sik Kok Kwong.
'These groups are rich and the donation to the Buddhist Association is a political one,' Mr Ho said.
Ms Wu said despite the links between Mr Tsang and the groups, it was difficult to accuse him of any 'transfer of interest'.
Friends of the Earth director Mei Ng Fong Siu-mei said the selected charities were 'very well blessed' with fund-raising abilities.
'I hope Mr Tsang can make a donation to those that really need it if he has the chance again after the next election,' she said.
Hong Kong Social Workers' General Union chairman Peter Cheung Kwok-che said Mr Tsang should explain the rationale behind the donations.
'It seems to me that he did make the donations to groups close to him. Since he donated to Catholic groups, I don't understand why he didn't donate to Muslims and Taoists,' he said.
A spokesman for the Chief Executive's Office declined to comment, saying only it was an election-related matter.