November 14, 2011; Source: Racked Chicago | This Thanksgiving season, JC Penney is showing just how simple social media can make charitable giving. The company has released several new digital initiatives tied to social media in hopes of bolstering sales.

  • Black Friday and QR Santa Tags:Each individual who checks in at a JC Penney with Foursquare on Black Friday triggers a $25 donation, up to $100,000. JC Penney is also introducing a fun new feature for shoppers called QR Santa Tags, which allows customers to record personalized voice messages for gift recipients. Shoppers can then scan the tags available starting Black Friday, record their personal message, and attach the QR code to the gift. 
  • Angel Giving Tree Program: The Salvation Army and JC Penney have teamed up together to present the Angel Giving Tree program, which offers online angel adoptions. On Thanksgiving Day, anyone who adopts a Salvation Army Angel contributes a $50 donation, up to $400,000. The program allows people to adopt an Angel anywhere in the U.S.—children, teenagers or seniors in need— and receive free shipping from UPS in return. This year it’s also possible for groups and companies to participate, adopting up to 10 or more angels. JC Penney is also supporting a mobile feature and iPad application for the Angel Giving Tree program.

JC Penney seems to be taking full advantage of mobile phone and social media trends in their new digital initiatives. The QR Santa tags are sure to be a big hit since QR codes have surged in popularity due to fast readability and large storage capacity. What other companies or nonprofits are using innovative charity initiatives with social media technology this holiday season?—Aine Creedon