For the many organizations that see sponsorships as a critical revenue stream, the news is good: Sponsor purse strings are loosening.

Spending on sponsorships of association meetings and events increased 3.6 percent to $514 million in 2010 according to IEG, a Chicago-based sponsorship consulting company. Further, sponsorship dollars to festivals, fairs, and annual events, which includes for-profit trade shows, climbed 3.4 percent to $782 million in 2010.

Overall, sponsorship spending in North American climbed 3.9 percent to $17.2 billion, reversing a first-ever decline in 2009 when sponsorship dollars dropped 1 percent.

IEG is expecting 2011 to be an even better year, with sponsorship outlays projected to jump 5.9 percent to $18.2 billion in 2011. Association sponsorships are anticipated to increase 5.6 percent to $543 million, while sponsorships in the festivals, fairs, and annual events category are expected to rise 4.9 percent to 3.4 percent. “We’re confident the industry has rebounded from the historic low point of 2009,” said IEG senior vice president and editorial director, Jim Andrews, in a press release.

The largest segment of the sponsorship world—sporting events—grew 3.4 percent to $11.6 billion in 2010. Sponsorship spending on entertainment, tours, and attractions climbed 6.3 percent to $1.7 billion, while spending on causes jumped 6.7 percent to $1.6 billion. Sponsorship spending on the arts increased 2.7 percent to $842 million.