Giving (dana) is one of the essential preliminary steps of Buddhist practice. When practised it itself, it is a basis of merit or wholesome karma. When coupled with morality, concentration and insight, it leads ultimately to liberation from samsara, the cycle of repeated existence.
The most excellent motive for giving is the intention that it strengthen one’s efforts to attain Nibbana.
The purity of the recipient is another factor which helps determine the kammic fruitfulness of a gift. The worthier the receiver, the greater the benefits that will come to the well-wisher; hence it is good to give to the holiest people available. The Buddha teaches that the worthiest recipients of gifts are the ariyas, the noble ones, such as the Buddha himself and those of his disciples who have reached the supramundane paths and fruits; for it is their purity of mind, attainded by wisdom, that makes the act of giving capable of yielding abundant benefits.
In the Sakkasamyutta (S.i.233) Sakka asked the Buddha: Gifts given to whom bring the greatest results? The Buddha replied that what is given to the Sangha bears great results. Here the Buddha specifies that what he means by “Sangha” is the community of those upright noble individuals who have entered the parth and who have established themselves in the fruit of saintship, and who
endowed with morality, concentration and wisdom.