Acceptor of Dana is called Pratigrahita (Samskrit : प्रतिग्रहीता) or Patra (पात्रः) the subject of dana.
While Veda Vyasa in Vyasa Smriti (4.60) says that donors are hard to find, it is equally hard and a great deal of effort is required to identify a suitable recipient of charity. Daksha (3.15) states
मातापित्रोर्गुरौ मित्रे विनीते चोपकारिणि । दीनानाथविशिष्टेभ्यो दत्तन्तु सफलं भवेत् ॥ 15
mātāpitrorgurau mitre vinīte copakāriṇi । dīnānāthaviśiṣṭebhyo dattantu saphalaṁ bhavet ॥ 15
Meaning : A gift made to one's parents, guru, friend, to a well conducted man, to one who has laid the donor under obligation, to the poor, the helpless, those endowed with special excellence, leads to rewards. According to Mahabharata, Vanaparva, in the context of to whom a gift of kapila cow or kapilago dana should be made the qualities of a Pratigrahita are described
श्रोत्रियाय दरिद्राय गृहस्थायाग्निहोत्रिणे। पुत्रदाराभिभूताय तथा ह्यनुपकारिणे॥ (Maha. Vana. 200.27) एवंविधेषु दातव्या न समृद्धेषु भारत।
śrotriyāya daridrāya gr̥hasthāyāgnihotriṇe। putradārābhibhūtāya tathā hyanupakāriṇe॥ (Maha. Vana. 200.27) evaṁvidheṣu dātavyā na samr̥ddheṣu bhārata।
Meaning : A brahmana who receives the dana (kapilago dana) should be one who performs shrauta yajnas, does not have any wealth, is a grhastha who performs nitya agnihotra, who bears rejection by wife and sons due to poverty and one from whom the donor has not received any favour not will not receive one in the future. To such a person one has to give but not one who is blessed with abundance.
Mahabharata's Dana Dharma Parva  is wholly devoted to matters on Dana. On his deathbed, Bhishma explains the eligibility to receive to Yudhishtira, the future king. Accordingly the receiver should have:
- Lack of anger
- Lack of treachery
- Lack of pride
- Self- control
- Calmness of the mind.
The person should also not take up undesirable activities. It does not matter whether the donee is well-known or is a new acquaintance, who has just arrived.
More than the qualities of an eligible donee, the list of ineligible recipients is longer and given in detail in many smrtis.
Daksha smriti (3.16) states the payment made to following persons is fruitless
धूर्ते वन्दिनि मन्दे च कुवैद्ये कितवे शठे । चाटुचारणचौरभ्यो दत्तं भवति निष्फलम् ॥ 16
dhūrte vandini mande ca kuvaidye kitave śaṭhe । cāṭucāraṇacaurabhyo dattaṁ bhavati niṣphalam ॥ 16
Meaning : Gifts made to rogues, to bards, to wrestlers, to those who devote time to bad lores, to gamblers, and deceivers, flatterers, spies, thieves brings no merit.
In the Dana Dharma Parva, Bhishma also goes on to explain that a brahmana with certain characteristics should not be given dana: one who criticises the Vedas, relies unduly on logic, does not propagate approved doctrines, is loud and noisy, abuses brahmanas, is suspicious of everyone, behaves like children or fools, and is bitter in dialogue.
Mahabharata's Vana Parva lists sixteen kinds of payments to donees which do not qualify as a dana. Such recipients include:
आरूढपतिते दत्तमन्यायोपहृतं च यत्। व्यर्थं तु पतिते दानं ब्राह्मणे तस्करे तथा॥
ārūḍhapatite dattamanyāyopahr̥taṁ ca yat। vyarthaṁ tu patite dānaṁ brāhmaṇe taskare tathā॥ 6
गुरौ चानृतिके पापे कृतघ्ने ग्रामयाजके। वेदविक्रयिणे दत्तं तथा वृषलयाजके॥
gurau cānr̥tike pāpe kr̥taghne grāmayājake। vedavikrayiṇe dattaṁ tathā vr̥ṣalayājake॥ 7
ब्रह्मबन्धुषु यद्दत्तं यद्दत्तं वृषलीपतौ। स्त्रीजनेषु च यद्दत्तं व्यालग्राहे तथैव च॥
brahmabandhuṣu yaddattaṁ yaddattaṁ vr̥ṣalīpatau। strījaneṣu ca yaddattaṁ vyālagrāhe tathaiva ca॥ 8
परिचारकेषु यद्दत्तं वृथा दानानि षोडश। paricārakeṣu yaddattaṁ vr̥thā dānāni ṣoḍaśa। 9 (Maha. Vana. 200.6 - 9)
- To a person who abandons his vanaprastha or sanyasa ashram (is called as आरूढपतित) and becomes a householder again.
- Money earned through injustice (Here it is dravya not pratigrahita)
- To a fallen brahmana
- To a thief
- To one’s father and other such elders (gurujan)
- To a liar
- To a sinner
- To an ingrate
- To the village / town priest
- To a person who sells the Vedas
- To an immoral brahmana
- To snake-charmers
- To one’s servants
- To women in one’s family
While Mahabharata calls charity to one's parents (gurujana) meritless (as their maintenance is the responsibility of the grihastha), Daksha smriti (3.15) states that a gift made to one's parents, guru etc leads to rewards.
- Kane, Pandurang. Vaman. (1941) History of Dharmasastra, Volume Two, Part 2. Poona: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute
- Pt. Ramnarayandatt Shastri Mahabharata, Volume 2, Vanaparva and Virataparva. Gorakhpur: Gita Press
- Daan-Dharm Parv. 220.127.116.11-15 (Ved Vyas, 2001, p. 5596).
- Agarwal, Sanjay. (2010) Daan and Other Giving Traditions in India. New Delhi: AccountAid, India