You don’t need to direct the questions to me. It is better to just post the question because others may want to comment too. I could be looking at it from one angle, and others could be looking at it from different angles.
Yes. It is an important question.
1. Giving (Dāna) is primarily of two types. One can give away material things (food, shelter, etc.), which is āmisa dāna. The other is to teach Buddha Dhamma which is Dhamma dāna.
2. Giving material things is good and MUST be done at all possible times. It sets the background to be able to understand Dhamma and reach Nibbana. We know that dāna pāramitā is a key pāramitā helping set up the background to direct one to Nibbana.
– We see many people who are not even interested in looking into Buddha Dhamma. They simply don’t have that necessary mindset.
– So, one should always give, especially when coming across people/animals who need food, shelter, or help in any other way.
3. However, none of that comes even close to Dhamma dāna. We can understand that the following way.
– Any amount of āmisa dāna will lead to temporary relief that can affect only the current life of the receiver.
– However, think about what would be the result of helping someone to attain the Sotapanna stage. That person will be free of numerous rebirths in the apayas. The Buddha clearly stated that over 99% of those who pass away from the human realm are born in an apaya.
– Thus, if even one person can be directed toward the Sotapanna stage, that is equivalent to saving the suffering through millions/billions of lives.
– When I started this website, I thought my efforts would not go to waste if just one person could be directed toward the Sotapanna stage. I am quite sure that more than one person has benefitted from the website. Yet, I always make sure to give to charity a certain amount every year because āmisa dāna is also important.
“Dāna Sutta (Iti 98)” state the key points I discussed above. English translation there is good.