Men are Christmas grinches, but women give generously, a charity collector says.

Remuera collector Jane Parlane says men often avoid eye contact and ignore her as she collects for the Mercy Hospice.

And if they do put their hand in their pockets they reluctantly part with a few coins.

One time, a man who told her he had just bought a $120 bottle of perfume for his daughter gave her 10 cents.

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Women, on the other hand, often popped a note into the collection box.

"Why are men so mean? I often collect for charities and I have to say men are very mean when it comes to donating," Mrs Parlane wrote in a letter to the Herald's Sideswipe column.

"They either walk past as if you're invisible, say they have no cash or spend several minutes reaching into their pocket for change and then you're lucky to be given $2."

Mrs Parlane, who has been collecting for different charities for several years, said women were much more generous.

"Especially the middle-aged women and older, give well. They give you anything from a $5 note to a $20 note.

"But the men rarely give. On that occasion, I don't think any man gave me $5. I think they just don't think about it. And because you're holding a bucket, they just think it's for coins."

South Auckland psychologist Barry Kirker said research indicated that if a wife asked her husband's advice on making a charity donation, she would be talked into giving less.

"If the woman is in sole charge of the finances, it's more likely a higher percentage will go to charity.

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"If she asks her husband about it, that percentage will go in a downwards direction."

Mr Kirker said women were more likely to give well to several charities, whereas men tended to be either very generous or very selfish. "So if you're a charity calling for money, make sure you ask to speak to the woman."

Auckland University of Technology professor of psychology and public health Max Abbott said the reason for the difference could be simply that women cared more than men.

Mrs Parlane said it wasn't all bad - there were lots of heartwarming stories of people going the extra mile to make a donation.

"One girl saw us collecting and ran off to get money from her parents and came back and donated."

Other charities told the Herald they had not noticed any difference in the amounts men and women gave.

St John spokeswoman Viv Muir said she always had a mix of men and women donating.

"The demographics tend to be different depending on where you're standing. I've been collecting down at Britomart and it's mostly men that pass and yes, they do give," she said.

Auckland and Northland Salvation Army Captain Gerry Walker also had not noticed a gender difference in giving.

Captain Walker said Kiwis were generous to the Salvation Army, particularly at this time of the year.

A survey of 800 people, commissioned by Kmart, found that 42 per cent of Kiwis felt that the best age to start teaching children about the importance of giving to others was four to five years old.

Half of those surveyed said they felt good giving to charities, and two-thirds said they gave because it was like giving back to the community.

Captain Walker said: "There's a joy in giving and it doesn't matter what age you are, you need to know that it's important."