Ruritan is a community service organization with the purpose of creating a better understanding among people and, through volunteer community service, make the local area a better place to live and work. Unlike most community service organizations, Ruritan rarely has national programs. Rather, each club surveys the needs of its own community and then works to meet some of those needs. Nearly all clubs work locally with youth organizations such as FFA, 4-H and Boy Scouting. Many clubs provide and supervise community recreational centers, sponsor little league and other athletic programs, sponsor anti-litter campaigns, help the sick and needy and provide a wide range of other activities to help improve their communities.
In the Ruritan Student Program, many Ruritan clubs select two or more high school students and pay their entire membership (including meals) in the club for one year. The purpose of the Ruritan Student Program is to introduce students of all ages to the Ruritan spirit of Fellowship, Goodwill and Community Service.