The Freemasons (or simply "Masons") are a fraternal organization that shares common ideas on morality and the nature of God. Throughout the history of the United States, Masonic lodges (sub-groups of the larger worldwide organization) have existed. Particularly here in the US, these lodges have been very active in charitable giving, and one way that they raise funds for charity is by issuing something called charitable gift annuities.

Freemasonry has long been misunderstood by the public at large, and the Masons are commonly regarded as something of a secret society due to the existence of certain rituals and practices that are, in fact, kept within the walls of the lodge. Masons are quick to point out, however, that they are active in the community and are a very open and sharing group that happens to have a few secrets. Their fundraising efforts for a number of worthy causes through the sale of annuities is a perfect example of their social involvement.

Annuity Museum possesses a number of documents pertaining to Masons annuities. These annuities work in much the same way as any annuity in that they pay the purchaser (the annuitant) a yearly stipend, usually for life, or in the case of a couple, as long as one of the two lives. The annuitant sometimes starts receiving this annuity income immediately, and sometimes it is deferred to a later date. In return, he or she makes a one-time charitable gift to the charity. The one difference between this and garden variety annuities is that the yearly sum payable is lower so as to leave a profit for the charity. With charitable gift annuities the annuitant can avoid probate court, and the income derived from the annuity is secured by the charity's assets.