One must give at least one monetary gift to two poor Jews on Purim. There is a disagreement among the poskim regarding the amount one must give. Some say that one prutah is enough (approximately 10-20 cents nowadays). Others say that one must give the amount needed to cover a basic meat meal (including bread) that can be used for a Purim seudah. It is proper to follow the latter opinion for at least two poor people.
The Rambam writes that it is proper to spend more on matanos la’evyonim in total than on mishloach manos and the seudah. Therefore, the more matanos la’evyonim one gives, either in the amount given to any individual and/or the amount of individuals one gives to, the more praiseworthy one is.
One should not give the money before Purim morning or after sunset. However, one may give the money to a messenger before Purim as long as one stipulates that it is only in the messenger’s hands for safekeeping until he gives it to the poor person on Purim.
One must give two different items of ready-to-eat food to at least one person on Purim day (as above).
One of the main reasons for this mitzvah is to increase friendship. Therefore:
One should send two respectable portions that befit both the recipient and the sender.
If one leaves an item at a recipient’s door, make sure it has the sender’s name on it so that it will accomplish this goal.
It is commendable to use this mitzvah as an opportunity to break down barriers that may have arisen between neighbors and acquaintances.
Note: Women are also obligated to perform both of these mitzvos. A husband can perform them for his wife by designating one of the mishloach manos and two of the matanos la’evyonim as hers.