Freemasonry and Masonry are pretty much two names of the same fraternal organization. Efforts have been made to define a difference without any universal agreement among the members. It differs from the building tradesmen who physically work with stones and bricks. The fraternity most likely came in some way from the construction workers of the time of great Cathedral building.
Some traditional definitions of Masonry use language regarding making good men better by using symbols and allegory. This probably is not why many most men join and continue their membership.
Each member has joined for his own reason and has his own understanding of what Masonry means to him.
There are three groups of members with differing views as to the meaning of Masonry who are frequently at odds with each other for control of the fraternity. One looks at it as a social club and a way to have some fun. The second is interested in the philanthropies and community service. The third is seeking Masonic Light.
There is a sense of brotherhood, with members looking out for the extended. family of which they are a part. Each knows that he can trust the others.
While Masonry is not a religion, it requires all its members to have some religion and believe in a power greater than themselves.
While it is not a charity, vast amounts are donated by its members.
A search for knowledge and truth, whatever that might be, is encouraged. Members should learn the secrets within themselves so as to live as better men within Society.
Individuals are members of local groups known as lodges. The lodges are organized into Grand Lodges. While these Grand Lodges are completely independent from each other, they have a system of recognition which permits a member of one part of the world to visit other lodges elsewhere.
Masonry is not a secret organization. Its existence is well known. Buildings often are quite prominent. There are telephone listings. There often are websites. Yes, there are some secrets, but these are more traditional means of recognition than anything else and can be found in books and other places if one wants.
Masonry is not a religion, but is religious. A Bible or other Volume of the Sacred Law is prominent during our meetings. Prayers are recited. Yet we are neutral as to and accepting of most religions. A basic requirement is that a member may not be an atheist.
It is not a charity, but its members give large amounts of money to various causes.
We are not a welfare or insurance organization, but we will care for a destitute member if the need should arise.
There are many myths about the origins of Freemasonry. Probably most of them can be proved to not be very likely. We certainly did not start with Adam, for example.