The "C for caring" flags will be flying again this year in association board rooms and executive offices across the country as the President's Citation Program for Private Sector Initiatives recognizes community-oriented projects sponsored by nonprofit groups and businesses.

The citation program was developed in 1984 by the White House Office of Private Sector Initiatives and is being administered by the Washington-based American Society of Association Executives, a group representing 12,000 associations in the country.

"Associations earn their tax-exemption status every day by sponsoring community projects," said R. William Taylor, ASAE's president and chairman of the citation program.

The program is one way of recognizing these efforts and showing other groups what can be done for the community, he said.

Out of the 2,000 "C" flag applicants from business and nonprofit groups that ASAE expects to recieve, a committee will choose 100 for special recognition.

These groups will be honored with citations, awards and an invitation to attend a White House ceremony in their honor in the summer of 1986.

An example of one of last year's top 100 entries is Project Learning Tree, a program begun by Washington's American Forest Institute and the American Forest Foundation in 1973 to educate children on the environment.

The project, which is now administered in 35 states, offers courses on scientific, technological, economic and social issues to teach children to be "responsible environmental decision makers."

The application deadline is Jan. 21; winners will be picked in April. TRADE

The American Gas Association has announced plans for its second Rally for Fuel Savings, a 5,500-mile trek that pits gasoline-fueled cars against natural-gas-powered cars in hopes of proving that the latter is more efficient, cleaner and economical. The rally, scheduled for March, includes pit stops in 14 cities across the southern United States. It will feature professional race-car drivers Bobby Unser, Bobby Allison and Johnny Rutherford, who will discuss the advantages of using natural gas as a fuel. Association statistics compiled from last year's rally showed a 33 to 54 percent savings per mile for cars that used natural gas.

AGA President George H. Lawrence said the environmental benefits of using natural gas are that it does not emit sulphur dioxide because it is lead-free, and it produces less carbon monoxide. PROFESSIONAL

Ronald P. Kaufman, vice president for Medical Affairs of the George Washington University Medical Center, has been named chairman-elect of the board of the Association of Academic Health Centers,starting in October. The AAHC represents more than 100 American and Canadian academic health centers where medical and nursing students participate in hospital activities as part of their degree program.