I’ve had many people ask this and the only way I have been able to describe it in “non-church” terms has been by using Greek life. So think of the Greek life system, there are all different kinds of fraternities and sororities (Pi Kappa Alpha, Delta Delta Delta, Delta Zeta, etc.).
All of these different houses have a similar end goal of forming lifelong friendship and community, but they all go about it in a different way. Some are academic, some philanthropic, some faith based, etc.
Religious orders/communities are similar in that regard. There are Benedictines, Dominicans, Augustinians, Carmelites, etc. They all have the same end goal of growing closer to Christ within community and helping your fellow sisters/brothers grow in holiness to ultimately get to Heaven. But how each community lives this out is different. Some are missionaries, some are contemplative and devote their lives to prayer, some are teachers, others nurses, etc.
Like Greek life, the fraternities and sororities are located on multiple campuses, but each chapter on the different campuses is going to be slightly different. So the Pikes at K-State are going to be different than the Pikes at KU or MU or any other college. Same with religious communities. The Benedictine Sisters that I am entering with (the Missionary Benedictine Sisters) are different than the Benedictine sisters in Gower, MO or Clyde, MO.
Below is a great article that helps explain the difference between all of the major religious orders.
I hope you enjoy!!